ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti will present his report to President Asif Ali Zardari in Aasia Bibi case today. He has also recommended changes in the Blasphemy Law, it has been learnt.
“I will present a detailed report to the president today,” Shahbaz Bhatti told The Express Tribune. He said he investigated the matter in detail and also included his recommendations regarding the Blasphemy Law.
Meanwhile, Ashiq Maseeh, husband of Aasia Bibi, along with his two daughters met the federal minister and requested him to convey the message of Aasia Bibi to the prime minister to request President Asif Ali Zardari for her mercy appeal.
Shahbaz Bhatti told The Express Tribune that in the mercy appeal of Aasia Bibi, it was clearly written that allegations against her were baseless. Aasia Bibi wrote in her appeal that she had great respect for all prophets. She also revealed security concerns to the prime minister, Bhatti added.
On the other hand, progressive political parties, student organisations and civil society condemned Aasia’s conviction and called for repeal of discriminatory laws.
In separate statements, they asked the government to commute the sentence of Aasia Bibi and repeal all discriminatory laws including the blasphemy law enacted during military dictator Ziaul Haq.
Workers Party Pakistan (WPP) President Abid Hassan Minto, general secretary Akhtar Hussain and central information secretary Asha Amirali, Ayub Malik of Awami Party Pakistan, Advocate Nisar Shah of Labour Party Pakistan and others in their separate statements said that Aasia Bibi’s case is the latest which proves just how oppressive the blasphemy and other laws are and how they completely violate the principle of equal citizenship for all religious minorities that is enshrined in the constitution.
They said that Pakistani society had been cowed by those who claim to the defenders of the faith for far too long and if this latest democratic experiment is to succeed, then all progressive forces must have the courage to push for a repeal of all such laws and put a halt to the politicisation of religion that has brought the country to the precipice.
They also pointed out that if the18th constitutional amendment was passed to redress the actions of military dictators then the same logic should be applied in the case of discriminatory laws. They also noted that the PPP has long prided itself as the vanguard of progressive forces in Pakistani politics but it has consistently compromised on progressive principles “for the sake of power.” However any further compromise will result in complete surrender to a brand of politics and social and cultural repression that will produce an irreversible slide and therefore, it is high time that the PPP take a stand in Aasia Bibi case.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2010.
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