SC delays Aasia Bibi blasphemy appeal after judge steps down

Published: October 13, 2016
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Hundreds of security forces deployed in the capital as the Supreme Court readied to hear a final appeal. PHOTO SOURCE: BBC

Hundreds of security forces deployed in the capital as the Supreme Court readied to hear a final appeal. PHOTO SOURCE: BBC

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing of Aasia Bibi’s final appeal against her execution in a blasphemy case for an indefinite period.

A three-bench headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period after Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman recused himself from the case. “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” he told the court, an AFP reporter said. The court did not immediately set a new date for the appeal.

Thousands of security troops had been deployed in the capital as the court readied to hear a final appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, with observers warning of “tremendous” repercussions for minorities in deeply conservative Pakistan.

Lal Masjid warns government against release of Aasia Bibi

Speaking to the media, Bibi’s lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook claimed that he has been receiving threats and hoped that the government would take it seriously.

Following the court’s decision, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, counsel for the complainant against Aasia Bibi said, “We are not pressurising the court, we are ready to accept the court’s decision.”

PHOTO: AFP

A senior police official told AFP that up to 3,000 forces had been deployed over the capital.

“Security is very tight in Islamabad all around today. Additional troops have been deployed on checkpoints and city junctions in general. There is also deployment of paramilitary force Rangers and FC (Frontier Corps) on some additional points,” a second police source told AFP.

Aasia Bibi’s family ‘waiting for miracle’

Up to 100 officers, many in riot gear, had been stationed outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad Thursday as Bibi’s lawyer and husband arrived for the hearing, an AFP reporter said, with more throughout the city.

“I have made my preparation, we are very hopeful,” Bibi’s lawyer told AFP earlier.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan. Anyone even accused of insulting Islam risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Rights groups complain the controversial legislation is often abused to carry out personal vendettas, mainly against minority Christians.

Fear, faith in Pakistan as Aasia Bibi appeals death sentence

Bibi was convicted and sentenced to hang in 2010 after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Her supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute.

But successive appeals have been rejected, and if the Supreme Court bench upholds Bibi’s conviction, her only recourse will be a direct appeal to the president for clemency.

She would become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy. The repercussions for minorities, human rights and the blasphemy laws will be “tremendous” if that happens, says Shahzad Akbar, a human rights lawyer.

Observers have warned of possible violence if the conviction is overturned, with some calling the case a battle for Pakistan’s soul as the state walks a line between upholding human rights and appeasing hardliners.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Khwaja
    Oct 13, 2016 - 9:49AM

    Our nation owes this lady and her family an apology and needs to compensate her for the misfortunes the system has caused her.

    We owe Taseer family for their loss caused for taking a just stand.

    I am ashamed that we could not show geeater solidarity on this matter as a whole.

    May God protect Asia Bibi. Recommend

  • Toticalling
    Oct 13, 2016 - 10:50AM

    I hope the judiciary has the courage to free her. She has been in prison for so many years, it is shameful that such laws exist which scare people to say anything. Worst of all are the fanatics who might take laws in their own hands to harm her. Aasia Bibi, there are good souls around, but they are too scared for their lives to come out and support you. Recommend

  • human
    Oct 13, 2016 - 11:17AM

    May Allah bless &protect her &family
    May the judges free her .Recommend

  • Pakistan Zindabad
    Oct 13, 2016 - 11:36AM

    A court which has already worked days and nights, on the same case and directed the decision. Which is not being accepted due to the pressure of International or Western Governments. Let see Justice will be done or National sovereignty will be staked.Recommend

  • KARACHI WALA
    Oct 13, 2016 - 11:38AM

    @Khwaja:
    Why did you pray for protection of her. Why didn’t you pray for the “True” Justice to be done? So one sided view of yours.Recommend

  • azzy
    Oct 13, 2016 - 12:21PM

    When this is the state of affairs that Ignorant violent people can threaten the highest court in Pakistan it becomes obvious that Pakistan is truly in the gutters.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam retd
    Oct 13, 2016 - 12:46PM

    The Rule of Law must reign Supreme.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 13, 2016 - 12:57PM

    Let us hope that this issue is resolved as per the Law…..and not politics…..or intimidation. Recommend

  • MAH
    Oct 13, 2016 - 1:39PM

    So this is civilian government’s response in dealing with extremism. And they think they can blame military for it!Recommend

  • Pnpuri
    Oct 13, 2016 - 2:01PM

    @KARACHI WALA:
    True justice in this case of blasphemy can be done by God alone. We ordinary people have our prejudices. Leave it to him.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Oct 13, 2016 - 2:12PM

    @KARACHI WALA:
    Because blasphemy is not domain of us mortal men, it’s something for God to decide so why even demand “true” justice from men? Your duty is to protect her rights and her life, do your duty, let God take care of rest.Recommend

  • B
    Oct 13, 2016 - 2:44PM

    It is laughable when a mosque can threaten a State and Judiciary. Looks like NAP is really working full swing. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Oct 13, 2016 - 4:00PM

    If SC doesn’t want to touch hot things then it should take Afridi/Miandad case. It would be very easy, interesting and fun for whole nation.Recommend

  • Sabi
    Oct 13, 2016 - 8:56PM

    Blasphemy law is un Islamic it must go.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین
    Oct 14, 2016 - 3:02PM

    @Sabi:
    If it was Un-Islamic then there would be no blasphemy.Recommend

  • Zain
    Oct 14, 2016 - 3:24PM

    There is no prob with the law but the main issue is investigation process. A person who does blasphemy should be hanged only once it has been proved n thoroughly investigated. By the way it’s really alarming tht extremist mindset is now more powerful than highest judiciary. Recommend

  • Constitutionalist
    Oct 15, 2016 - 12:40AM

    Pakistan should make proper laws regarding religion and blasphemy in accordance with the demands of the 21st century.Recommend

  • kaash
    Oct 15, 2016 - 9:12AM

    It is events like this that will add up to make Pakistan a pariah state. If it is not one already,that is.Recommend

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