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Did Pakistan Supreme Court come to the rescue of Blasphemy Law victim Asia Bibi?

Asia Bibi was brutally beaten after drinking water from a well, which was specifically for the use of Muslims in the highly discriminatory nation- Pakistan

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Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi. Wikimedia

August 26, 2016: Pakistani Christians have expressed great joy and fear on news that Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi- Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy law victim will finally have her long awaited Supreme Court appeal heard during the second week of October.

Asia Bibi was brutally beaten after drinking water from a well, which was specifically for the use of Muslims in the highly discriminatory nation- Pakistan. Her mistake was to offer water from the same well to Muslim co-workers who started to beat Asia, whilst cursing her and her faith. Asia could not take the insults made against Jesus her Lord, so she simply said ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?” The male co-workers were told about this and Asia Bibi was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, she was beaten to her home where her children were later sexually molested. For her crime of blasphemy which was induced by the demand of a local Imam, she was imprisoned under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has now been incarcerated since June 2009 and has been sentenced to death since November 2010.

Asia could not take the insults made against Jesus (her Lord), so she simply said ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?” The male co-workers were told about this and Asia Bibi was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, she was beaten at her home where her children were later sexually molested. For her crime of blasphemy which was induced by the demand of a local Imam, she was imprisoned under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has been incarcerated since June 2009 followed by a death sentence, that was announced in November 2010.

After a failed appeal to the Lahore High Court on October 16, 2014, many thought freedom was beyond Asia Bibi. However, in a pre-trial hearing at Pakistan’s supreme court on July 22, 2015; the court has suspended her death sentence and permitted an appeal. In her appeal, Asia will ask the court to reconsider deficiencies in the case, which included poor investigation and manipulation of pieces of evidence by the local police.

The appeal was originally meant to take place on March 26, 2016. However, after the judiciary and Government of Pakistan decided to push through with the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri under anti-terrorism laws, they were forced to postpone Asia Bibi’s appeal hearing.

Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated Salmaan Taseer, a former Governor of Punjab for his stance of calling for the abrogation of draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan and freedom for Asia Bibi. In the wake of Qadri’s death- a wave of protests included 100,000 Muslims, who gathered outside the Government buildings in Islamabad and demanded the termination of proposed reforms of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan and death sentence for Asia Bibi. The government caved in on the reforms which had passed through Parliament and were to be ratified by the Senate of Pakistan. Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s luck had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.

Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s luck had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.

However, news of the revised date for the appeal hearing has induced mixed feelings. Many Pakistani Christians believe the date will be postponed again when the Muslim protests for Asia Bibi’s death reassume. They still recall the 5 postponements before Asia Bibi had her Lahore High Court Appeal rejected.

Moreover, despite their joy and delight that Asia Bibi will have her day in court and a chance for justice, they fear that a community backlash will result in attacks on the innocent Christian communities across the country. Despite their fear, every Pakistani Christian stands with Asia Bibi and is praying for her release!

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:

“Asia Bibi has suffered the Injustice of five years imprisonment for a made up crime. A cultural faux pas and innocuous comment made while being attacked, led to her being raped her children sexually molested and her arrest under the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan for good measure.
‘As a devout Christian, she continues to believe God will free her from her ignominious incarceration. She prays daily and has placed her life and her family before God.”

“I have spoken to Pakistani government officials and the judiciary. All I have spoken to are shocked at the ongoing abuse of her liberty. Yet her tragedy continues and I have come to the conclusion that all I have been receiving is diplomatic lip service, devoid of passion for justice.”

“Her story is one of oppression and discrimination and despite international pressure, statutory authorities and the Government of Pakistan have failed her, just as they have failed all minorities in Pakistan.”

He added:

“Freedom for Asia Bibi would be a watershed moment in the campaign for justice and freedom for minorities. Previous governments have failed miserably, but I believe the incumbent Government is genuinely attempting to return the balance. I hope that effective protection is provided to Asia and her family, the judiciary and all persons that could make this latest appeal a success. Any half-hearted approach will undermine Asia’s trial and create a blight on Pakistan’s reputation.”

BPCA believes there will be a large mob of Muslims baying for the blood of Asia Bibi outside the courts. We are calling on the Government to ensure that the known ring-leaders are rounded up and prosecuted under the countries incitement to hatred laws.

If these extremist elements are allowed to foment violence against any innocent people, then it is the government and security forces that should be implicated for their failure to provide adequate protection. This case will create schism and polarization among a population that has been inculcated with hatred, through a biased national curriculum. We pray that any ensuing infraction is controlled and curbed by security forces and that innocent Christian communities are protected during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.

We pray that any ensuing infraction is controlled and curbed by security forces and that innocent Christian communities are protected during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.

BPCA continue their appeal to support the Asia Bibi and her family. If you would like to donate towards our appeal please (click here). 

Please sign and share our petition (click here)

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Supreme Court Signals Out Automobiles Cause Much More Pollution Than Burning Firecrackers

Making it clear that it does not want to generate "unemployment", the court said those who would lose their livelihood can't be compensated in terms of alternate jobs, financial or other support if the firecracker industry was shut down.

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air pollution
Linking the plea for a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country with Article 19 (1)(g) guaranteeing the right to occupation, trade or business, a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde flagged the issue of loss of jobs if there was a clampdown on the firecracker manufacturing industry. Pixabay

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why firecrackers were being singled out for rising pollution levels when automobiles caused much more pollution. It asked the Centre to apprise it with a comparative study of the two.

Linking the plea for a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country with Article 19 (1)(g) guaranteeing the right to occupation, trade or business, a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde flagged the issue of loss of jobs if there was a clampdown on the firecracker manufacturing industry.

Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution guarantees the right “to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”.

crackers
Observing how there can be a ban on the firecracker industry whose operations were legal and licensed, Justice Bobde said the way out was not cancelling the license but there could be a change in the licensing conditions.
Pixabay

Sitting along with Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, Justice Bobde said the issue had not been examined on the touchstone of Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution.

Making it clear that it does not want to generate “unemployment”, the court said those who would lose their livelihood can’t be compensated in terms of alternate jobs, financial or other support if the firecracker industry was shut down.

Observing how there can be a ban on the firecracker industry whose operations were legal and licensed, Justice Bobde said the way out was not cancelling the license but there could be a change in the licensing conditions.

crackers
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why firecrackers were being singled out for rising pollution levels when automobiles caused much more pollution. Pixabay

The top court’s observations came in the course of hearing a PIL by a toddler — Arjun Gopal — seeking ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country.

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Noting the work being done by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to produce green firecrackers, the top court had in its last order asked NEERI and PESO to stick the timeline culminating in the bulk production of firecrackers based on the new formulations by May 10, 2019.

The top court had in October 2018 permitted the use of only green firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels during all religious festivals. (IANS)