Stories about Aasia Bibi

Dear Aasia Bibi, today I have no apology for you

Dear Aasia, I have so much to tell you. I have so much to talk to you about. I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps the best way is to start off by saying that I would never dare say such a callous thing like I know what you must be going through. I don’t. I have no idea what is going on in your head. I can’t even imagine how disgusted you must be feeling with life right now. However, I do know that you have every reason to feel disgusted. Aasia, you need to understand a few things about the ...

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Blasphemous Punjab in a blasphemous Pakistan

This morning when I woke up, I did the first thing any sane human being would do; I checked the traffic on my page. After that, I opened Twitter and Facebook to see what I had missed throughout the night and one particular status caught my attention. A human rights advocate was shot dead in Multan. He was to defend a university lecturer who had been accused by a student group of having committed blasphemy. In days that I went to school, we could not have accused our professors of breathing too hard, out of respect. Today, academicians are scared to ...

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Do we need madrassas in Pakistan?

Pakistan has undoubtedly become a difficult place to live in with death penalties for the weakest of the weak while terrorists and thugs are acquitted and walk free.  It is quite true that those who believe in absurdities are the ones who commit atrocities. Blasphemy or what ‘they’ term blasphemous is one such absurd idea that provides the basis for committing atrocious acts in Pakistan. The death sentence given to a young Christian man, Sawan Masih, is a great example of such an atrocity committed in the name of ‘blasphemy’ under Pakistan’s rigorous blasphemy law. Sawan Masih, a cleaner, was arrested last year in March in ...

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Sawan Masih: Another injustice in the name of justice!

It appears that the public would rather Sawan jaey, than Sawan aaey. Sawan Masih, 26-years-old, a poor cleaner and the father of two, was arrested last year for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks during an argument.  He protested his innocence saying that there was a property dispute concealed under the accusation of blasphemy but to no avail. Sawan and his family lived in Lahore’s Joseph Colony with other Christian families, clustered together for safety. Unfortunately, the numbers on ‘the other side’ were far greater. When the above event occurred, a mob composed of some 3,000 people attacked Joseph Colony for several days, forcing the inhabitants to leave. When this mob destroyed a hundred ...

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‘Eye for an eye’: Does capital punishment do justice or encourage vengeance?

Around 140 countries have progressed to becoming abolitionist states in the last 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was promulgated. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan oddly stands as a retentionist for over a dozen crimes including blasphemy, drug trafficking, kidnapping and adultery. A sore reminder of this is the recent adjudication by an anti-terrorism court in Karachi that sentenced two men to seven and fourteen years imprisonment followed by a ‘to be hanged till death’ order. In a country that is deeply influenced by a strict and orthodox interpretation of the religion that the majority follows, are we ready ...

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Why should we remember Salmaan Taseer?

January 4 and 5 are two days that every PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) supporter will remember, but for two very different reasons. January 5 is the birthday of their enigmatic party founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. January 4, on the other hand, remains one of the darkest days in our history of political murders – a day that is, surprisingly, not spoken of enough. January 4, 2011, was the day when the serving Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was shot dead by his guard, because the guard was in disagreement with Taseer’s opposition to the blasphemy law. Salmaan Taseer’s assassin was a man ...

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Support minorities and save St Joseph’s Hospice, they need our help!

I wrote an article on street beggars and how they are more greedy than needy yet we still keep stuffing their pockets by directing our charity to this flourishing business of begging. The comments, numerous ‘likes’ and the feedback I received acknowledged how people agreed with my suggestion of giving charity where it’s deserved – to organisations that truly work for the poorest of the poor. But ironically, we have places like St Joseph’s Hospice in Rawalpindi that tirelessly work for people whose own families are either unwilling or unable to support them due to limited resources. For 50 years, St Joseph’s Hospice has been ...

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Rimsha Masih: Another victim we failed to protect

Eight months ago, Rimsha Masih innocently told reporters: “I love Pakistan. I won’t ever leave my country.” Little did she know that after being accused of a crime she did not commit, under laws that were inherently in favour of her accuser, she will be forced to flee the country she held dear, despite how little it offered to non-Muslims like her. Today, Rimsha and her family have been forced to seek asylum in Canada. Rimsha was accused of burning pages of the Holy Quran by her neighbour, Khalid Jadoon in August 2012. She was detained in a maximum security prison for several ...

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Pakistan doesn’t deserve its Christian community

The year 2009 saw a series of attacks on the Christian community in Gojra that left eight dead and many vulnerable and scared for their lives. 40 houses and a church were set ablaze by an angry mob and the police watched despite the residents begging for protection. Again this week, an angry mob around 3,000 strong attacked a Christian community in search of a particular blasphemer, Sawan Manish who, was already captured and in custody since Friday. These young men – again not surprisingly – in front of the police expressed their rage and caused hundreds of Christians pain they never thought they could ...

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Salmaan Taseer in Kafka’s Pakistan

“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.” Thus begins Franz Kafka’s novella masterpiece Metamorphosis. The novel inhabits the familiar bizarre frame of Kafka’s work, of a world where the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a giant insect-like creature elicits hardly any surprise from Samsa’s family and associates, or indeed from Samsa himself. Samsa spends no time pondering his metamorphosis, why it may have occurred or how the process may be reversed. He busies himself instead with mundane concerns, and immediately upon his transformation spends an inordinate amount of ...

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