Pakistan postpones ruling on Christian woman

  • Pakistan postpones ruling on Christian woman

Pakistan postpones ruling on Christian woman

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa noted that the superintendent of police (SP) did not investigate the matter thoroughly and just put together few statements.

"What we can conclude from your statements is that the prayer leader himself did not witness the incident as it happened", Justice Khosa observed.

Last month a member of Pakistan's newly elected government, which is led by Imran Khan, a former cricket star who has embraced religious conservatism, offered prayers at Qadri's shrine, generating an outcry from rights activists. "The Chief Justice has banned media interference but all the journalists are talking about this". He added that the court will look at the investigation report in entirety.

"There are also contradictions regarding how the notice of the incident was taken and the complainant has said the decision to register an FIR against Bibi was taken amid a group of people", he added.

It was reported that in 2009, Bibi and two Muslim women had a heated exchange, the lawyer told the court. The reason behind it was that the women had refused to drink water from the same dish as Asia. "In such a situation, Section 295-C is inapplicable", the lawyer argued. As described here, Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws are often used explicitly to persecute Christians.

After hearing the arguments, the top court reserved its judgment on Bibi's appeal.

The ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which makes punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry and lionizes the bodyguard who killed Taseer, warned the court against any "concession or softness" for Bibi.

Taseer, the then Punjab governor, openly supported Aasia Bibi.

If Bibi's appeal gets rejected by the Supreme Court, her only recourse will be a direct appeal to the President for clemency.

Religious hardliners in Pakistan on Wednesday (Oct 10) threatened judges and announced protests as the country awaits a Supreme Court ruling on the fate of a Christian woman who faces becoming the first person to be executed for blasphemy. To have her charged with blasphemy, they took their complaint to an imam, who did not see the incident.

The convicts appealed the sentence in 2013, leading the High Court to commute the sentences of three other convicts - Mohammad Al-Amin, Akbar Ali Lalu and Rafiqul Islam to life in prison. But if not, he will seek a review, which could take years to complete.

"I am a 100 per cent sure she will be acquitted", Malook told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on the eve of the hearing. "She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong, having a very strong faith", Masih told BPCA's Chairman Wilson Chowdhry.

The blasphemy charge arose in 2009 when Bibi was working in a field.

The Family Research Council said Bibi's case grew out "of an argument with several Muslim women who grew angry at her for drinking water from the same bowl as them, which they believed made the water ceremonially unclean". Her husband, Ashiq Masih, said on a visit to England that if she is released, she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too unsafe for them to remain in Pakistan, according to Catholic News Service.

Christians in Pakistan are conscious of the threat of an outbreak of rioting by Muslim mobs if Bibi is acquitted by the court, the BPCA said in an October 7 press release, even though they are praying ardently for her release.