Protecting Aasia Bibi is state's duty, says top judge

Top judge addresses Pakistani origin members of the Parliament in London

ARIF ANIS MALIK November 22, 2018

LONDON: Chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has said blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi ‘was trapped’ without any proofs and that sending her abroad for protection would be tantamount to failure of the state.

The CJP, who is currently in London, expressed these views on Thursday while visiting the British Parliament where he was welcomed by British lawmakers of Pakistani origin – Afzal Khan and Faisal Rasheed.

According to a TV channel, the CJP said Aasia Bibi – who was absolved of blasphemy charges by the apex court on October 31 – should get full protection in Pakistan rather than abroad.

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“Providing her security is responsibility of the government; it is responsibility of the state of Pakistan to protect life and property of every citizen. If Aasia Bibi is sent abroad or given asylum in any other country it will be failure of the government and the state,” he said.

The CJP, who headed the bench that set the Christian woman free, said every possible effort should be done to provide Bibi more and more protection in Pakistan. “If we set such an example, the chain will continue,” he added.

To a question about putting her name on the Exit Control List (ECL), he said it is not a suitable time to express his thoughts on this question as the case could be brought to his court. “I assure you, however, that our law has no such provision. The judiciary will not give any illegal judgement about it,” he added.

When asked as to why the Supreme Court did not take notice of the recent sit-ins and protest that erupted in the wake of its October 31 verdict in Aasia Bibi case, he said: “Just wait for a few days and you will get the answer to this question.”

 The CJP said corruption is the biggest problem of Pakistan, adding that a government based on kufur (infidelity) can survive but a government based on injustice cannot. “Corruption is one of the biggest issues of Pakistan. We need to update our laws,” he said.

Construction of dams imperative

The CJP said construction of dams is imperative for Pakistan. According to Radio Pakistan, the CJP said that the country requires funds to construct the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The unresolved water crisis in the country will eventually force people to migrate if it is not addressed, he added.

CJP Nisar also visited the British Parliament and witnessed the question-answer session of the house.

Over Rs7.8 billion have been raised in fund for the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dam. Separately, he participated in a reception held in his honour by the lawyers of central London.

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He praised the role of overseas Pakistanis for their parent country and told the audience of the reception that overseas Pakistanis play a crucial role to stabilise the country's economy.

Talking about Pakistan's current situation, the chief justice said that the country is prospering and justice is available on equal basis to all castes and creeds. He said he is the chief justice of the entire country and not of a particular party or sect. "Requirements of justice are being fulfilled in the country."

Justice Saqib Nisar's visit to the UK is aimed at raising funds for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. He is expected to return on Nov 28. The Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams fund has so far received Rs7.9 billion.

On July 4, the apex court had issued directives that the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams should start immediately, and appealed to the Pakistanis — including those residing abroad — to donate for the cause.

The court had formed a committee to monitor the progress of construction and directed that an account be opened with the SC's registrar in which all donations will be collected. It also said that all those donating for the cause will not be asked of their sources of income.

The chief justice had initiated the donation process by announcing Rs1 million donation for the cause during the hearing of a case pertaining to the construction of Kalabagh dam.

"It was said that 'even the Supreme Court's father' cannot construct dams," the CJP had noted, reminding the naysayers that the Constitution had given the court the power to make it happen.

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