Asia Bibi’s blasphemy appeal is delayed after judge steps down
The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned the hearing of Asia Bibi’s final appeal for an indefinite period after a judge in the case stepped down.
The Christian mother of five has been detained since 2009 after she was accused of uttering derogatory remarks against Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. Asia was sentenced to death in 2010 by the lower court, a decision which was upheld by the Lahore Court and then challenged in the Supreme Court.
Her lawyer had submitted an application for an early hearing, which was granted, and a date was set last week.
But Justice Mian Saqib Nisar – heading the three-judge bench set for this appeal – adjourned the case for indefinite period when Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman recused himself from the case stating: “I have been involved in the earlier blasphemy case of Sal-maan Taseer, which was related to it so I cannot hear this case.”.
Meanwhile a letter has been written to the Chief Justice asking him to appoint another judge to hear this case.
Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, said that although the hearing has been adjourned he is still very hopeful that at the next hearing the charges against Asia will be dropped and she will be freed by the supreme court.
He added: “But I am also scared that there can be tremendous repercussions for the Christians whether her conviction is overturned or upheld. If her conviction is upheld, then she can appeal to the
president of Pakistan.
“Undoubtedly pressure will be further built by Islamist groups and if, God forbid, her appeal is rejected by the president of Pakistan then she will become the first person to be executed for blasphemy in Pakistan.
“Also if charges are dropped and she is freed, there will be huge protests in Pakistan by the Islamists and Christians’ properties and lives will be at risk.”
He concluded: “It is very important that the government takes this matter seriously and takes security measures before the appeal hearing, not just in the Islamabad but throughout the country and particularly in Punjab.”Tags: Asia Bibi, blasphemy, Christian, Pakistan