` Pakistani Police Register Case of Blasphemy Against Sixty Eight Lawyers ‘

#AceNewsServices – ISLAMABAD – May 13 – Pakistani police have registered a case of blasphemy against 68 lawyers who made a public protest after a police officer detained one of their colleagues, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in a tidal wave of such accusations flooding the country.

Blasphemy Charges Against Lawyers

Analysts say the surge in accusations is a worrying sign the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people is becoming less tolerant as militant ideas enter mainstream politics.

The colonial-era law does not define blasphemy, but the charge carries the death penalty. Presenting evidence can be considered a new infringement, so judges are reluctant to hear cases.

Judges who free those accused of blasphemy have been attacked and two politicians who suggested reforming the law were shot dead.

Those acquitted have often been lynched.

Monday’s charges followed a protest in which lawyers shouted slogans against senior police officer Umar Daraz for allegedly illegally detaining a lawyer in the Jhang district of central Pakistan.

“Lawyers were protesting against police, using foul language and the name of the inspector,” the district’s police officer, Zeeshan Asghar, told Reuters.

One of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of the Islamic religion, was called Hazrat Umar.

A member  of a far-right sectarian party complained his religious feelings were offended because the lawyers used the name “Umar” in their protest, and lodged charges with police.

Blasphemy accusations have spiked in Pakistan recently, a 2012 study by the Islamabad-based think tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies, showed, with 80 complaints in 2011, up from a single case in 2001.

More recent figures are not available.

Blasphemy Law Speak up Get Shot

BBC News Reported: Q and A Pakistan – Blasphemy Laws  

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say they have been used to persecute minority faiths.

What are the recent controversies?

The laws have been contentious since the formation of Pakistan in 1947, but attention in recent months has been focused on a teenage girl with learning difficulties,  known as Rimsha, who was accused of desecrating the Koran. An imam was later arrested for allegedly planting evidence.

Another prominent case is that of Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi, sentenced to death in November 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

The following January Punjab Governor Salman Taseer – a prominent critic of the law – was assassinated by his bodyguard. The assassination divided Pakistan, with some hailing his killer as a hero.

In March 2011 Religious Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who spoke out against the laws, was shot dead in Islamabad.

When do the laws date from?

The offences relating to religion were first  codified by India’s British rulers in 1860, and were expanded in 1927. Pakistan inherited these laws after the partition of India in 1947.

Between 1980 and 1986, a number of clauses were added to the laws by the military government of General Zia-ul Haq.

He wanted to “Islamicise” them and also legally to separate the Ahmadi community, declared non-Muslim in 1973, from the main body of Pakistan’s overwhelmingly Muslim population.

What do the laws say?

The law enacted by the British was general in nature, prescribing punishments for intentionally destroying or defiling a place or an object of worship or disturbing a religious assembly. They also made it unlawful to trespass on burial grounds or insult religious beliefs through the spoken or written word or by innuendo or visible representation.

The maximum punishment under these laws ranges from one year to 10 years in jail, with or without a fine.

Beginning in 1980, a slew of clauses was added to the chapter of religious offences in the Pakistan Penal Code. These clauses can be grouped into two categories – the anti-Ahmadi laws and the blasphemy laws.

The anti-Ahmadi laws were included in 1984. They bar the Ahmadis from calling themselves or behaving as Muslims, preaching their faith and using Islamic terms for their places of worship and religious rituals.

The blasphemy laws were created and expanded in several instalments.

In 1980, a clause was added to the law, making derogatory remarks against Islamic personages an offence, carrying a maximum punishment of three years in jail.

In 1982, another clause prescribed life imprisonment for “wilful” desecration of the Koran, the Muslim holy book. In 1986, a separate clause was inserted to punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the penalty recommended was “death, or imprisonment for life”, in that order.

Who is affected by the laws?

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) – a voluntary organisation – has been documenting blasphemy cases. It says that Muslims constitute the majority of those booked under these laws, followed by the Ahmadi community. According to the HRCP, since 1988 around 1,000 cases have been lodged for desecration of the Koran, while nearly 50 cases have been lodged for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

Lower courts have handed down hundreds of convictions in these cases, but nearly all of them have been reversed by the higher courts due to lack of evidence, faults in due process or obvious wrongful motives on the part of the complainants. Hundreds of Christians are among the accused – at least 12 of them were given the death sentence for blaspheming against the Prophet.

Are they fairly applied?

At the level of the lower judiciary, there is often considerable pressure on the judges to order convictions, especially in cases relating to Ahmadis and blasphemy. But most decisions fail the test of the law at the higher judicial level, where offenders are often acquitted.

One reason is that organised religious groups are able to influence lower judges more easily than judges of the higher courts, although their influence there is growing too. Second, rights groups say most cases are motivated by local rivalries which are more easily exposed by the higher judiciary than the lower courts.

Legal experts say convictions under the law regulating blasphemy against the Prophet are easier to obtain because it does not establish a link between an offence and the intention, so that even an unintentional act can also be treated as a wilful offence.

Do most Pakistanis support the laws?

A large majority of Pakistani people support the idea that blasphemers should be punished, but there is a little understanding of what the religious scripture says as opposed to how the modern-day law is codified.

The response to recent events suggests that they largely believe the law, as codified by the military regime of General Zia-ul Haq back in the 1980s, is in fact straight out of the Koran and therefore is not man-made.

The organised religious groups are promoting this view and have been able to mobilise mass support in their favour. Their highest point came when the assassin of Governor Salman Taseer in 2011 was hailed as a hero by a large section of people across the country.

Why do the authorities appear reluctant to amend them?

Amending the blasphemy laws has been on the agenda of nearly all the popular secular parties. But none of them has made much progress – principally because of the sensitivities over the issue, but also because no major party wants to antagonise the religious parties which have on numerous occasions proved capable of bringing large numbers of protesters on to the streets.

In 2010, a member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Sherry Rehman, introduced a private bill to amend the blasphemy law. Her bill sought to change procedures of religious offences in such a way that these offences would be reported to a higher police official rather than the usual police station chief. In addition the cases would be heard directly by the higher courts instead of going through the local courts first.

The bill was passed on to a parliamentary committee for vetting. It was withdrawn in February 2011 under pressure from religious forces as well as some opposition political groups. Given the growing religious conservatism in Pakistan, the government is wary about losing public support over the issue, correspondents say.

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Mortgage Fraud Examiners Warns Beware Of Pretender Defenders

English: Notice of Trustee's Sale, Foreclosure...

English: Notice of Trustee’s Sale, Foreclosure, Mortgage Crisis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mortgage Fraud Examiners, the investigative firm who warned the public about loan modification scams, the “criminal loan modification trap,” the “Mortgage Elimination” scam and worthless services like “forensic loan audits” and “securitisation audits” is now warning that “pretender defenders” may be cheating homeowners out of victory by ignoring contract breaches and tortuous acts underlying their mortgage transactions! 

Only exposure of contract breaches and/or tortuous conduct underlying a mortgage transaction provides a sound strategic basis for liberating homeowners from the bondage of mortgage foreclosure.” So says Storm Bradford, Founder of Mortgage Fraud Examiners.

Mortgage Fraud Examiners is a project of Lex Consulting, LLC. For over 30 years, Lex Consulting has provided litigation support to attorneys, helping them break into new areas of practice, or providing specialized advice for complex cases requiring novel approaches to the law. Due to the recent housing crisis, Mortgage Fraud Examiners, a team of specially trained legal professionals, was created to provide borrowers and the legal community with comprehensive assistance to help keep them in their homes.

Homeowners and attorneys need to understand a promissory note; mortgage/deed of trust is nothing more, nothing less, a contract. Moreover, attorneys need to be extra careful. According to several ethics counsel we contacted around the country, failing to identify contract breaches and/or tortuous conduct may justify a homeowner suing a foreclosure defense attorney for malpractice or at least disgorgement of fees if the homeowner were to lose their property and these problems were later identified. Bradford reiterates the point, made by the ethics attorneys, “foreclosure defenders who fail to properly examine the mortgage transaction might face legal malpractice claims by their clients: Let me ask you this. If a client goes to an attorney with a contract dispute, what is the attorney ethically bound to do? Is not it to look for breaches in, and tortuous conduct related to the contract?”

Thomas K. Plofchan, Jr., an attorney in Sterling, Virginia, who employs the services of Mortgage Fraud Examiners, adds: “Ultimately, the only real issue is whether a proper lien has been created with the house as collateral. It is astonishing just how many legal errors, contract breaches, and frauds, can be exposed by a meticulous examination of the mortgage transaction.” Matter of fact, in two recent cases we were able to identify and establish evidence to show the deeds of trust were void. The result for the homeowners was receiving their respective homes free and clear. So, it’s quite clear, a thorough examination of the mortgage contract is the ONLY proven method to uncover evidence that could affect the validity of the lien.”

Bradford claims that so many foreclosure attorneys fall into the Pretender Defender category that homeowners must develop ways to determine whether the attorney can and will be able to identify contract anomalies within the mortgage transaction, and get them a financial settlement and/or their house free and clear if found. ?Asking a simple question, like how many cases have you won, would be a good starting point.

Bradford explained the favorite strategy of the “Pretender Defenders:” “They use arguments like ‘show me the note,’ ‘securitization,’ ‘MERS,’ ‘robo-signing,’ and so on. Although these have some legal validity, inevitably, the entity foreclosing corrects the defects and wins because of one central fact that everybody knows – the borrower failed to repay the mortgage loan as agreed. These ?pretender defenders know that the court will eventually grant the foreclosure, Bradford says, and that their typical defenses generally amount to nothing more than STALL tactics.

This brings up a pressing question. How often do ?pretender defenders miss valid defenses that may help homeowners? A recent lawsuit by the FDIC shows that this happens all the time. The FDIC had 292 appraisals performed by an appraisal management company for Washington Mutual analyzed. The FDIC found ?more than 75 percent of appraisals reviewed were found to contain multiple egregious violations of USPAP and applicable industry standards. The FDIC’s Big Appraisal Fraud Suit: Why It Smells Fishy

Foreclosure defenders should be identifying tortious conduct, and contract breaches. And finding problems within the mortgage transaction is relatively easy, we find appraisal fraud in eight out of every ten mortgage transaction we examine, which coincides with the findings of the FDIC, and that doesn’t include all the other types of tortious conduct and contract breaches that are usually present. So in most cases the homeowner has a ninety percent chance or better of having something viable that puts them in the proverbial driver’s seat. Most often the demonstration of a strong cause of action will lead the bank to ask for a settlement. The settlement or the lawsuit could result in getting the house free and clear, and/or money for the foreclosure victim, plus fees and costs for the attorney.” Quicken Loans on losing end of $3 million predatory lending verdict

Bradford adds, “if the homeowner had a choice of possibly stalling the foreclosure action or possibly getting their home free and clear, and/or a monetary settlement from the bank, does anyone really believe the homeowner would choose the stall tactic? And yet, many do because these ‘pretender defenders’ misled them. By just delaying the inevitable foreclosure, some pretender defenders bill their clients anywhere from $1500.00, to $3500.00 or more upfront, and $500.00 to $1500.00 a month until their foreclosed on. In the end, the client loses the house and has lost to the ‘pretender defender’ $5,000.00 to $20,000.00 badly needed for relocation after the foreclosure. Confusing Lawyer Fees Complicate Foreclosure Battles

Mortgage Fraud Examiners provides services for attorneys and their clients who face foreclosure and for homeowners who suspect problems underlie their mortgage transaction. They discover appraisal fraud, loan application fraud, other tortious conduct, contract breaches and both typical and atypical violations of all kinds. They provide a report of the findings within 7 business days, and, as a service to attorneys, may provide it styled as a complaint ready for filing or for settlement negotiations.

The first line of action for any homeowner or attorney should be the examination of the mortgage transaction first, and in the off-chance there’s nothing there of any consequence you can always stall afterwards, but never first! There really are many legal options available to homeowners facing foreclosure,” Bradford concludes. ?However, the only process that works is to find a REAL legal dispute that a judge is willing to accept as a valid reason to slam the bank, such as contract breaches, tortuous misconduct, etc. Every mortgage transaction has unique facts, every claim has different applicable law, and only by properly examining the mortgage transaction is one going to find the answers.”

Sent to Ace Mortgage Desk for immediate press release by Mortgage Fraud Examiners for which we thank them.    

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