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Feb-06-2019 02:07printcomments

Fair Trial: Asia Bibi Not Guilty of Blasphemy

The US has conveyed concerns about Christian persecution in Pakistan, while Pakistan simply denies it.

Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi and her children, many years ago. She was found not guilty of blasphemy in Oct 2018 after over 8 years in prison.
Photo: christianfreedom.org

(ISLAMABAD) - The Supreme Court of Pakistan finally set aside a review petition of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, accused of blasphemy, after she spent more than 8 years in prison, in solitary confinement.

The decision is being warmly welcomed by human rights activists in the local and international community. The judgement is unclear, however, regarding what action will be taken against those who falsely accused her of blasphemy and gave false testimonies to mislead the court and public.

I’m not a law expert but the law professors said that ‘for every wrong, the law provides a remedy’. He who wrongs another is to be punished. There were significant notable remarks by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) while grilling the petitioner’s lawyer.

CJP Khosa rebuked the witness for lying under oath, and added that they would have been jailed for life if the case wasn’t so sensitive.

There is a provision in law should Asia Bibi’s lawyer take up the issue and file a case against those who falsely accused her of blasphemy. Then, the courts would be morally bound to award a punishment to Asia’s tormentors. But victims of blasphemy in Pakistan usually refrain from challenging the false accusers even after they are acquitted.

The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed this judgement during his launching speech on Persecution of Christians across the Globe independent review.

He said, "I think the news about Asia Bibi this week is extremely encouraging, but the truth is that unless we make a real effort and unless the world knows that we are making a real effort, those bits of good news will become the exception and not the rule. And that’s what we don’t want to allow to happen."

He also showed his concerns about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan and said "we particularly want to look at the issue of Christian persecution." The US has conveyed concerns about Christian persecution in Pakistan, while Pakistan simply denies it.

As citizens, we have reciprocal rights and responsibilities. But in Pakistan, we have experienced that government maintains the win-win situation.

In late November 2018 the Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for Karatarpur Corridor. The gesture is a breakthrough between two neighboring countries and Pakistan widely claimed the corridor as important to help protect minorities’ rights.

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal told the media in Islamabad before leaving for Karatarpur that the opening of the Karatarpur border was the historic step for welfare of minorities.

"It shows that Pakistan takes care of minorities," Faisal said.

Undoubtedly this is a significant move by the Pakistani government, if the dream comes true as there are grievances from both sides. We will soon see if the govt is just playing - if protecting minorities’ rights are only slogans.

A delegation of young Pakistani Catholics was prevented by government officials from flying out of the country to join the Jan. 22-27, 2019 World Youth Day in Pakistan.

The Fides news agency reported that 14 young Pakistani Catholics with regular visas who were about to fly out to join the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama were blocked at Lahore airport by Pakistan’s Department for Immigration Office.

World Youth Day is an event for young people organized by the Catholic Church, which was initiated by Pope John Paul 2 in 1985. It is religious gathering and being organised every year by the Catholic Church.

The local government issued a threatening letter to Churches, which is a clear violation of the Constitution of the country but also violates international obligations.

The Punjab government issued the letter on January 02, 2019 directing concerned department to take security measures and to close/seal the Churches in case they fail to comply with directives.

According to the Constitution, the state is responsible to safeguard the rights and worship places of the minorities. Article 20 does not merely confer a private right to profess but confers a right to practice both privately and publicly.

The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and the ultimate goal of the state should be to eradicate religious intolerance in Pakistan.

The sad reality is that such a policy exists on paper only. Religious and ethnic minorities continue to suffer discrimination. This continues despite the constitutional obligation to protect the life, property and worship places of all citizens regardless of their caste, ethnicity, religion or gender.

The state plays the role of the bystander when human rights abuses occur at the hands of the powerful majority groups.

Minorities have regularly been hoodwinked into believing that their rights shall be guaranteed and protected by the state.

Asia Bibi was found not guilty of blasphemy in October 2018, and now she can legally leave Pakistan. Free at last. For others, the problem continues as there are several more Christians in Pakistan jails accused of blasphemy with cases pending.

The trial for Asia Bibi was fair. Let us see fairness for all in Pakistan's near future.

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©2019 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


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