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Slave wages

"Slave wages" Continued...

Issue: "The trouble with Tommy," May 4, 2002

Other incidents unfold without international attention or sometimes even local notice. During Yussef's lengthy case a relative was murdered by a mob after becoming a Christian. More recently, a gunman entered a Christian bookshop in February and fired off two shots at the store manager, missing the target but grazing an assistant on the chin.

But U.S. policies aren't always helpful to Pakistan's persecuted Christians. Muslims from Pakistan are much more likely to receive visas to visit the United States than Pakistani Christians. One reason is they are more likely to own property-making them more likely to return to Pakistan, in the eyes of U.S. immigration officials. One deacon in Mr. Khokha's church applied four times to visit the United States, with invitations from American churches, and each time was rejected.

Mr. Musharraf appeared ready to amend the blasphemy law a year ago. In April 2000, reports Compass Direct, he announced procedural changes to restrict "misuse" of the blasphemy law, including a magistrate's review of the evidence before a case was registered. But after two weeks of heavy protests launched by Islamist leaders, the government backed down, and the statutes were never changed.

U.S. lawmakers tried a little arm-twisting on the eve of Mr. Musharraf's visit to the United States in February. They introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives urging Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy law. But Mr. Musharraf's government was swift to reaffirm the law. Before Mr. Musharraf returned to Pakistan, government spokesmen issued statements reaffirming the law. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that the government was prohibited from introducing "any amendment of fundamental nature" in the constitution.

Mr. Musharraf likely won't face opposition on that issue as he campaigns to legitimize his rule. Those affected by the law are a distinct minority-and they are working 12-hour shifts.

-Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute

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