Pakistan’s Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has said that the Supreme Court will hear Asia Bibi’s appeal against her blasphemy conviction “soon”, and that he will preside over the bench.
In October, it was reported that the Supreme Court was likely to hear Aasia [Asia] Bibi’s blasphemy case during the next couple of months.
Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, told The Express Tribune that the court’s additional registrar had conveyed to him that the case was likely to be fixed for hearing in November. However, if for some reason there was a delay, it would definitely be listed in December.
“I have been told that currently the Supreme Court’s special bench is hearing criminal appeals filed in 2015. The Aasia case was listed the same year. Therefore, it will be heard during the ongoing year,” said the lawyer.
Legal experts say it’s unclear if a bench led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will resume, or the special bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, will hear her case.
The 51-year-old Christian, has been on the death row since November 2010 after being convicted of controversial blasphemy charges during an argument with a Muslim woman. Aasia’s case gained prominence after then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer pleaded for her retrial and was subsequently shot dead by his guard, Mumtaz Qadri, in January 2011.
In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld Aasia’s death sentence, but the Supreme Court stayed her execution in July 2015.
Lord please sovereignly cause her to be acquitted and leave this rotten country for her own safety!
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In October, it was reported that the Supreme Court was likely to hear Aasia [Asia] Bibi’s blasphemy case during the next couple of months..
Describing her case, Bibi said she was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Because she is a Christian, some of her Muslim co-workers objected, saying that she should not touch the water vessel as she would make it unclean. An argue began and harsh words were exchanged. Bibi claims the women later accused her of blasphemy in conspiracy with another Muslim woman. Bibi maintains her innocence.
Whilst Aasia Bibi’s defence believe they have a strong case, there is huge pressure from Muslims to uphold the death sentence.
Speaking directly to Barnabas Fund’s contact in Pakistan, Aasia Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih requested prayer for protection and that justice will prevail. He has also asked that specific prayers be made for the lawyers defending Aasia Bibi, as well as the judges who will hear the case. He said that the family are well and thankful to Barnabas Fund for helping them to purchase a house.
Commenting on the significance of the appeal, Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, wrote, “Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.”
Should the judges rule in favour of Aasia Bibi, there is the risk that she and her family will be targeted by vigilantes as have many others acquitted of “blasphemy” charges in Pakistan. It is symptomatic of the increasing Islamisation of Pakistan and the immense difficulty that Christians in particular have in defending themselves against false accusations. Whilst it would be a huge victory for justice should Aasia Bibi be acquitted, more challenges could yet lie ahead for her and her family.
LAHORE: The Supreme Court is due to hear the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian, accused for blasphemy, on Thursday. Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.
This will be the final appeal for Asia Bibi, some six years after she was sentenced to death, accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.
“There is no question that what is at stake is the very soul of the state and Pakistan society: does Pakistan respect the rights of the most vulnerable? Does it defend those rights against spurious allegations even where those allegations involved matters that are sacred to most Pakistanis?” Mustafa Qadri, an expert on human rights in South…
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