12/06/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Lahore High Court issues stay order in Asia Bibi’s appeal against blasphemy sentence

by Jibran Khan
A new order by the High Court makes it harder to discuss the controversial legislation and prevents the government from issuing a pardon for the convicted Christian woman. The appeal date against her death sentence has not yet been decided.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – On Monday, the Lahore High Court issued a stay order preventing any amendment to the blasphemy legislation until further judicial action. The petition calling for the order was filed by one Muhammed Nasir who claims that parliament has no right to amend the blasphemy law.

In its order, the court ruled that no bill regarding the blasphemy law could be presented until it delivers a verdict on the case. It also issued notices to the federal government for 23 December. It postponed the hearing of the petition filed for Asia Bibi’s pardon in the blasphemy case, although it did not set a date to hear the case.

In an earlier ruling, the court had stalled pardon moves for Asia Bibi, directing President Asif Ali Zardari and the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseeri to restrain from making any move to pardon the convicted woman until 6 December. Today, it decided to extend the stay order until 23 December.

Although the president was not made a direct party among the respondents, the chief justice categorically issued directions to the president saying, “No action shall be taken either by the president of Pakistan or anybody working under the authority of the functionaries performing duties under supervision of the governor of the Punjab.”

In the meantime, more and more people are joining the petition campaign launched by AsiaNews at salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it. So far, about 7,000 people have signed the petition online or on paper.

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