LAHORE: October 20, 2014. (PCP) On October 16, 2014, Christian mother of five Asia Bibi, had had her blasphemy appeal hearing dismissed. A Special Bench of Lahore High Court, decided to uphold her existing blasphemy sentence, meaning Asia will remain on a death sentence and now she has right of second appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
LEAD intends to file her second appeal within 30 days if the mutual understanding will be developed among her all lawyers for to end the disturbance which were created during appeal arguments by some her lawyers.
Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Human Rights Defender was present along with his team consisting on Aric John, advocate high court, Hadayt Bashir, advocate high court and Qaiser Younas ,court clerk of LEAD.
The case was called and there were a number of Lawyers to represent her. Abruptly Sardar Tahir Khalil Sindhu and Ch. Naeem Shakar started to argue the case but they were hindered by the Justice Anwal-ul Haq and he ordered and directed to addressing all the lawyers, who were present to represent the Appellant, first decide who one lawyer argue the case. On this it was decided that Ch. Naeem Shakar, who is senior lawyer, would argue the case. He well argued the case and seemed that his preparation was very much appreciable. The court gave a plenty of time to him to argue and to assist the court to decide the appeal decision. The arguments went in two halves meanwhile Sardar Tahir Khalil was also a little bit contributing.
In second half, the point was raised by the court, why, the two eye witnesses before whom the incidence occurred and derogatory remarks were uttered, were not cross examined and challenged in the trial by you.
On this question, Ch. Naeem Shakar and Sardar Tahir Khalil Sindhu remained silent and pointed by eyes towards S.K Choudhary, who filed appeal and contested the trial.
S.K. Choudhary requested the court one hour for his arguments and the court said that he could take enough time to argue as he wished to take but the court said that the court would not give time for arguments any other lawyer except him. He started to argue the case and he argued well and his arguments were appreciable but the court again asked the same from him why he could not cross-examined the two eye witnesses in trial.
He argued and explained, how the particular derogatory remarks could be cross-examined by me as being Muslim, on this the court said here we are not Muslims we are for justice only and being lawyers it is our responsibility to represent the accused for justice and our faith should be at home. On this main ground ,which is flaw and draw back of the trial proceedings and defense side, the court dismissed the appeal because the statement of eye witnesses not to be challenged and cross- examined means the alleged allegation against the accused is true and admitted fact.
Why in mostly cases of blasphemy, the wordings of FIR would not be cross-examined and challenged by defense lawyer and in this particular case was not cross-examined the eye witnesses during trial because there was always much pressure from prosecution lawyers and if the defense lawyer try to challenge and to cross-examine the wordings of FIR, the defense lawyer will have to face death threats and some time to be killed as happened with Rashid Rehman, who was killed during contesting the trial of English professor accused of making blasphemous Facebook post after prosecution lawyers had threatened to kill him in front of a judge, the same threats were extended towards defense lawyer in this particular case of Asia Bibi during her trial. It was also decided and announced by whole Nankana Sahb Bar Association that no lawyer would represent her that was the reason many Christian Organizations' lawyers fled away from the seen during her trial, who are in appeal stage come forward. We have to appreciate S.K. Choudary who contested her trial instead of restriction was imposed by the concerned local Bar.
The same things happened at bail stage that's why mostly defense lawyers ,who are on payroll of organizations, not be able to get released the accused on bails in blasphemy cases because they would not prefer to take life risk and they just fulfill legal formalities for their jobs in such blasphemy cases.
Why we were successful to get released on bails and rescued in our cases because we are human rights defenders and we do not care about ourselves and those life threats which were and are being extended towards us and we are motivated by God and encouraged by our supporters who supported us for our security measures.
So our request to national and international organizations, please consider the safety and security of lawyers ,who represent blasphemy accused ,preferably so that the fear that if he would be killed who will care his family be mitigated and taken out from their minds. This can be only possible if you will provide practically security and training to the lawyers for their encouragement.
It is also requested you on behalf of Asia Bibi to write petitions and letters to send the Pakistani authorities to make her released because she is suffering for faith and she is innocent and struggle with us for religious liberty for individuals and raise voice with us for the repeal of blasphemy law and to end religious extremism.
We at LEAD request you to pray that God will protect her during presentment and we have to remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will admit the second appeal and will accept it finally for her acquittal.