Asia Bibi is already frail, and a reported beating at the hands of a prison guard did not help. Authorities seem to be half hoping she will die in prison so they will be spared the fallout on one hand of carrying out her sentence, or on the other, of releasing her.
Qari Salam let himself be used by fellow Muslims who promised to “chase her through hell,” and as a result, an innocent woman has been sentenced to death and dumped in a Pakistani jail after a show trial with no attorney or a chance to make a statement. The judge feared the wrath of Islamic supremacists who wanted her dead.
Salam is not ready to retract his charges, however, still believing that “it will bring me a better place in heaven.”
Does Barack Obama know the name of Asia Bibi? Do Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, or Ron Paul? Anyone in a potential position to deal with foreign policy regarding Pakistan certainly should. “Aasia Bibi’s case: Weighed down by guilt, blasphemy accuser mulls pulling back,” from the Express Tribune, January 21 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
A guilty prayer leader prowls the narrow, fetid streets of Ittanwali village in Nankana district.
At the forefront of a popular, polarising case, Qari Salam ostensibly regrets filing a blasphemy charge against an impoverished Christian woman, Aasia Bibi.
The source of his guilt — realisation that the case was not based on facts but on hyped religious emotions and personal bias of some village women.
Aasia has been languishing in Sheikhupura jail since a sessions court awarded her death sentence for insulting Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Support from London
Qari, according to some of his close friends, was now thinking of not pursuing the case anymore and expressed his desire to some of his friends, only to find himself in a difficult situation when activists of a religious organisation “˜convinced” him not to change his mind.
“We will chase her through hell “¦ don’t worry about the money, hiring best lawyers,” Salam told The Express Tribune, quoting the son of Khatm-e-Nabuwat’s London chapter’s leader.
The leader’s son flew in to Nankana from London after hearing that Salam might not go to Lahore High Court (LHC) when the review petition against Aasia’s conviction is taken up.
Salam himself, however, denied he ever thought of backtracking from his stance.
“How can I change my mind,” he said. “I believe it will bring me a better place in heaven. It gives me pleasure, it is my pride,” Salam told The Express Tribune.
Salam said Khatm-e-Nabuwat had hired Mustafa Chaudhry as counsel to fight his case in the higher court, and were ready to go to an extent to seek death for Aasia.
Counsel seek bail
While bullets may have silenced Aasia’s lone supporter, former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, they have faltered in the face of the silent resolve of her counsel.
Despite death threats from religious right [sic], Aasia’s lawyers are now planning to seek bail for her from LHC.
Lone supporter? Why no mention of Shahbaz Bhatti, who was also assassinated?
“Yes, we are ready to file a bail application and will be moving ahead with it in a couple of weeks,” said Rai Ajmal, one of the two lawyers who were Aasia’s counsel in Nankana court which sent her to gallows in 2010.
A review petition against the verdict filed by Rai, and a fellow lawyer Sardar Khan Chaudhry, is pending before the LHC and there are little chances that it can be taken up for at least another three years.
Rai said the LHC is still hearing review petitions filed in 2006-07, and judges are reluctant to use their discretionary powers to take up Aasia’s case on a priority basis due to its controversial nature.
Aasia’s review petition was filed in 2010 and, according to sources in the LHC, it will purportedly not be taken up before 2015, while Aasia languishes in jail.