10/11/2018, 15.21
PAKISTAN
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Radicals pledge “horrible” end to justices set to announce verdict in the Asia Bibi case

by Shafique Khokhar

Extremists are affiliated with the Taliban. There is still no news on the fate of the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Pope Francis offers his prayers. For activist, Pakistan’s parliament must change the law.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – If Asia Bibi is released, the justices will meet a "horrible” end, according to Muslim radicals.

Everyone is waiting for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to announce the fate of the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy and held in solitary confinement in prison since 2009.

On Wednesday Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a hardline religious political party, has announced protests across the country. On social media, extremists are calling for the Bibi to be hanged.

Christians, for their part, are praying for her release with Pope Francis leading the way.

During a brief conversation with Daniel Bashir, representative of young Pakistanis at the Synod underway in the Vatican, the pontiff told him that he was “praying for her every day. God bless you".

Michelle Chaudhry, president of the Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF), told AsiaNews that she was disappointed by the trial’s delays.

"However, we wait with optimism for the decision of the Supreme Court and hope for a fair and impartial decision.”

“Asia Bibi was wrongly convicted of blasphemy. She has spent nine years in prison, most of which on death row. The rule of law must prevail and justice has to be done."

For Chaudhry, Asia Bibi is not the only victim of laws that punish insults against the Prophet Muhammad.

“Asia Bibi is certainly not the first to fall victim to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws; numerous people both Muslims and non-Muslims have been accused under this Law.

“Some accused persons have been killed even before the courts could hear the cases registered against them. Many have been killed in custody. Hundreds of blasphemy accused are languishing in prisons across Pakistan; it is imperative that this law be revisited”.

Dil Nawaz, a research officer at Interfaith Affairs Liverpool Hope University and Trustee of Hope Heritage UK, has confidence in the justices.

“I am hopeful that the current Supreme Court will hear Asia Bibi plea on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”

According to Zafar Iqbal, another activist, Asia Bibi’s case "is the one of the false cases in the country” targeting “poor Christian women”.

“There are many social and human rights activists who want justice for her, but” there are “numerous extremists [who are] against her without knowing the facts.”

Zafar believes that the Christian woman should be released from prison; nevertheless, there will be no peace for her and her family. “She must be sent abroad if she wants a future".

Attorney Bilal Warraich agrees. Asia Bibi’s trial shows how the justice system works in Pakistan.

“The real question is: Would Bibi be able to be safe in Pakistan”. Until parliament deals with “the laws brought in by Zia ul-Haq, innocent lives will continue to be threatened.”

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