Who will give Aasia Bibi justice?

Published: November 20, 2010
The writer is web editor at The Express Tribune 

The writer is web editor at The Express Tribune jahanzaib.haque@tribune.com.pk

Our honourable chief justice has enough time to visit the Supreme Court to conduct meetings pertaining to hearsay reports on the government’s attempts to take down the judiciary, but he has not had the time to take notice of the death sentence awarded to Aasia Bibi for blasphemy.

The issue has been highlighted in sections of the local media and in much of the international press as well. Amnesty International has lambasted us for sentencing the woman to death and even the Pope has joined in, asking the government to set her free. On November 20, it has been reported that the president has taken note of it and asked for a report on the matter. However, why are the superior courts silent on this pressing issue?

Some are trying to explain the lack of action on what, they say, is a dilemma that the honourable judiciary is facing. They say that the case has been decided by a lower court and an appeal will be heard by the Lahore High Court. In such an eventuality, it would not be wise for the Supreme Court to intervene, rather let the law take its course — let the Lahore High Court first decide on the appeal. In a sense, since the case is already being heard, at least an appeal against the verdict given by a lower court judge, it would be best if there was no suo motu action.

However, this is only side of the issue. According to news reports, a government body, the National Commission on the Status of Women, has criticised the lower court’s verdict, saying that the woman is not guilty of blasphemy but rather that she is being made to pay because of a dispute. This view also says that the case happened in Punjab and that if the superior judiciary were to step in and intervene, it could well open a veritable can of worms. The reason for that is that there is said to be a landlord involved in the Aasia Bibi case and that her punishment may have something to do with his influence in the area. And, that he is linked to the party in power in his province. Hence, this view goes, it is probably best for this case to take its legal course and not have any senior judicial authority intervene and make life difficult for the ruling party.

What can be said in fairly reliable terms is that this case, nay, the blasphemy laws themselves are a tool that have been used time and again to settle personal vendettas and to maintain a deadly hegemony over values, that is: if you don’t agree with me, I will kill you.

This is unjust and, in this case in particular, it is cruel. The honourable chief justice’s speedy response is awaited.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Haris Masood Zuberi
    Nov 21, 2010 - 1:35AM

    I’m just glad this issue has created the size of waves it should have created.
    Once again the depravity of our society and judicial system stand exposed as the world hurls shame at us.
    The Hon CJ and Mr President will both be in a fix, and each will try to pitch the ball on to the other’s court once the junior court has issued a verdict. Neither will have the guts to mess with the Pandora’s box of perverse interpretations of shariah, threatening them like a time-bomb.
    There’s more than their mere survival at stake now.
    Saving the life of a simple woman who’s a wife and a mother will turn out to be their toughest test.Recommend

  • sirius
    Nov 21, 2010 - 8:37AM

    So glad I live in a democracy not a country where women are simply objects and the successive governments use “terror” to kee the public under thier yoke! Recommend

  • SharifL
    Nov 21, 2010 - 1:59PM

    Just get rid of blasphemy law. Asia bibi is important, but the law is the main culprit. Recommend

  • Nov 22, 2010 - 2:11AM

    pakistani women are more important than pakistani mullahsRecommend

  • Ehtisham Rizvi
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:36PM

    Very nice article, we need to promote liberalism and secularism in this country. Only through that we can fight and defeat extremism. The hudood and blasphemy laws indeed portray extremism and have been used for personal vengeance (as you mentioned) over the last few decades. I read about the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s era of Pakistan and correct me if I am wrong, it used to be a pretty liberal and open minded country. The ‘saudi’fication of Pakistan by Zia killed any chance we had of development, and not even Musharraf could fix that. Lets see how this democracy copes with the situation.Recommend

  • Hasan Z.
    Dec 1, 2010 - 3:46PM

    Lets talk sense people …. Over exaggerated Lady Aasia issue is just another excuse the present Government needed to redo the blasphemy law.

    Its nothing to do with any Maulvi / bearded guy ….. majority of teh people talking on the issue are the people who if one Google can find how much they are with the National Policy makers including our Government and the friendly foreign Governments (read USA, UAE, Saudi, UK) who have interest in our land.

    Governments often need an event to divert attention of the public and media as well as to use it to bring changes … previous examples:

    1) Jawed Iqbal (man who killed 100+ kids in Lahore) during Musharraf’s time

    2) Zaid Hamid (self sponsored analyst with hot issues & chicks)

    …. and last but not the least …

    3) NGO sponsored fake Taliban canning video to overturn the Swat peace deal with TNSM.

    Also keep in mind that there is NOT A SINGLE hanging / death punishment in present Government;s tenure … due to their Master’s wish. Not only she will be pardoned but will be out and with her family.Recommend

  • zoya
    Jan 13, 2011 - 9:33AM

    where is the Chief justice NOW
    who is going to give that Poor woman Justice?????

    why is the Govt allowing rallys & strikes on this topic

    just make the decision quick & let her go

    PLEASE some one HelpRecommend

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