Stories about Aasia Bibi

Do we remember what Taseer was fighting for?

International newspapers were ruthlessly generous to Pakistan this past year in granting the country front page features time and time again. Coverage included the Raymond Davis incident, the Memogate scandal, a ‘bold’ Veena Malik, devastating floods, and everyone’s favourite, Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. However, exactly one year ago, Pakistan stole headlines for a reason that has largely been buried; Salmaan Taseer’s assassination over the criticism of the blasphemy law. On January 4, 2011, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, one of Taseer’s security guards, emptied over 20 bullets into the body of the man he was meant to protect. Taseer’s death was both ...

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A long wait for Aasia Bibi

She has already suffered a lot but it looks like a longer, more painful and tiresome journey lies ahead for her. Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sent to the gallows by a district court in central Punjab last year for committing blasphemy, will have to wait for several years before the Lahore High Court (LHC) takes up her application, seeking review of the lower judiciary’s verdict. Lawyers associated with the case have indicated that it is unlikely that the LHC would take up any time soon the review petition in arguably the most ‘controversial’ case in the country’s recent legal ...

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We do not deserve Shahbaz Bhatti

Minister for minority affairs Shahbaz Bhatti has been brutally gunned down today –  joining the list of many to have been killed.Voices of sanity do not do well here in Pakistan. Just when you start thinking things will be okay, that now the maniacs have safely put away Aasia Bibi and they’ve killed Salmaan Taseer so maybe that’s enough to make their point – you are jolted into the reality that is Pakistan. You understand completely and fully, even if you did not that morning when reading the opinions page of The Express Tribune, why George Fulton is leaving. Today’s breaking news ...

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Should Taseer’s death be in vain?

I would be lying if I said I’m shocked by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination. Ever since he announced support for Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death over blasphemy allegations, religious zealots had been calling for his head, on the streets, on Facebook groups and in fiery Friday sermons. Of course, no one took that seriously. His own political party deserted him when Prime Minister Gilani, shamelessly playing to the religious right to save the coalition government and his seat, vehemently claimed he would never even think of amending the blasphemy laws. One would expect the prime minister ...

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Minorities in Pakistan: Living a marginalised reality

I’ve found the reaction to Pakistan’s current blasphemy laws surprising. Not because I think the whole Aasia Bibi (and more recently Naushad Valiyani) issue has been blown out of proportion but because of how long it has taken Pakistan to acknowledge the malicious nature of the blasphemy laws. I feel that our nation’s reaction is luke warm – one that has flourished just so most of us can sleep at night feeling good about ourselves as genuine ‘online philanthropists’. These blasphemy laws have existed in Pakistan as long as I can remember. They are a product of what General Ziaul Haq and ...

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Aasia Bibi: A question of religious freedom

The recent case of Aasia Bibi once again thrust Pakistan into the international stage for it’s appalling record of human rights. But though many commentators have called for the repeal of the blasphemy law, I feel we are missing the bigger picture. Calling for piecemeal legal reforms is a necessary part of incremental, pragmatic and gradualist change (tadarruj as it’s know in the classical Islamic legal traditions). However, the greater point about this case is the issue of religious freedom. It is a question of freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. On another level it is to do with ...

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Blasphemy law: An apparatus to sustain tyranny

In Pakistan, if you have a land dispute, political rivalry, or just personal or professional jealousy or economic rivalry with someone and you are bent on settling your score, then teaching them a lesson is easier than you think. You can make your enemies regret every day they have ever lived, especially if they are non-Muslims, Ahmadis, Zionists or “Hindu Zionists”. Although in Pakistan it may seem convenient to hire an assassin or kill them yourself – but why do things ‘illegally’ when you can destroy their lives ‘legally’ with popular support? All it takes is a false accusation of blasphemy ...

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