Lahore High Court – LHC judges have saved their skin and confirmed the death sentence of Asiya Bibi. Unfortunately, in high profile case of Asiya Bibi, the radical groups are also tracking her case and their presences in the court have shown that they were willing to keep Asiya’s death sentence confirmed. I am just hypothesizing but I am sure that Justice Anwar ul Haq while deciding Asiya’s case at the LHC must be thinking about Salman Taseer (late) and Shahbaz Bhatti (late) and their own security.
Asiya Bibi was first sentenced to death in 2010, and now LHC uphold her death sentence. The mother of 5 was accused of blaspheming against Prophet Mohammad following an argument with two Muslim co-workers during an incident in 2009 in one of her parent village. There are dozen of the people waiting for their fate in different jails of the country and many from the religious minorities were sentenced to death under 295-C PPC. The constitution of the country is;
Injuring or defiling place of worship, with Intent to insult the religion of any class:
Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction damage or defilement as an insult to their religion. Shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs:
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the 'religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.
Defiling, etc., of Holy Qur'an:
Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur'an or of an extract there from or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.
Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Pakistani courts; under any circumstances are very strict to announce death sentence to the accused of blasphemy from the people of religious minorities. And none of the judge from the senior court dares to remove the decision of low court. Likewise, we have seen with Asiya bibi’s case, LHC uphold her death sentence. If so, what about the section 295 A, which says, Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the 'religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.
During last few years, there are many incidents accrued of this kind; in Shinti nagar, hundred of the Holy Bibles were burnt by mob, during Gojra riots two churches and seven members of a family were burnt alive, Shanti nagar, a Christian village with its churches was burnt, in Mardan, hundred years old church with its old sings, pastor’s house and a school were turned to ash and in Joseph Colony hundreds of the houses and two churches were burnt. Alas! No is being punished by the court. Many Muslims involved in riots were arrested and were released after one another. It is clearly seen here that JUDGES decision seem biased here. When constitution says whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of the citizen of Pakistan … insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished. Unfortunately the law is being imposed on minorities but rest of majority is not punished.
Was Pakistan being made for this day? Unfortunately; religious mind set segment is ruling in the country and have forgotten that this country was not partitioned from India to become a Muslim state. Primarily founder of the nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah have conceived it as democratic state for Muslims and all other minorities, for they could live together in peace and harmony and can worship freely. Non Muslims of the region have struggled for this country so that they could be forever protected and treated as equal citizens.
I think there is chance apex court can overturn the death sentence of the blasphemy cases, despite pressure on judges from radical groups that are determined to see her executed. In many cases, especially blasphemy cases, court decisions are influenced, either by ideology or threats, by local radical groups. In this regard, at least President Barack Obama, Pope and other western can play a positive role to convince Pakistani government to ensure justice in blasphemy cases facing death sentence.