Justice delayed is justice denied
By – Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice Dost Muhammad Khan said during the local ceremony in the twin city, God would judge each person deeds according to His justice; therefore, judges should render expeditions justice to litigant public and earn the pleasure of God.

In June 2009, Asia Noreen, know as Asia Bibi lived in a village of Distt. Sheikhupura had arguments with Muslims women for drinking water in the same cup. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, although she denied but was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a judge sentenced her to death. Additionally, a fine of the equivalent of $ 1,000/ was imposed with the verdict and thus mother of five became the first woman condemned to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.

In October 2014, her death sentence had been confirmed by the Lahore High Court – LHC. A month later, in November 2014, Asia Bibi filed an appeal in the Supreme Court as her final legal recourse, dashing hopes the conviction might be overturned or commuted to a jail term. After five year on the death row, in July 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has suspended her execution given leave to appeal. But no hearing date was set.

The execution of Asia Bibi has been suspended and will remain suspended until the decision of this appeal, her lawyer told media outside the court. However Asia Bibi will remain in jail between life and death. Bibi’s blasphemy case has become the most controversial blasphemy case in the world. Although Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy but some people accused of the offence in the past have been lynched by crowds. Lawyers, judges and those seeking to reform the blasphemy laws have been threatened, attacked or even killed.

Since General Zia ul Haq included the stringent blasphemy law in the constitution violence worsens in Pakistan. Thousands of the people have charged under this law since then. Prior to 1986, only 14 cases pertaining to blasphemy were reported. According to sources, 51 people accused of blasphemy were murdered before their respective trails were over.

Christians along with other minorities in Pakistan face discrimination and persecution by the state and fellow citizens. They are routinely accused of blasphemy and attacked or jailed. Their homes and churches are burned down; young girls are kidnapped / rapped and are forcefully converted to Islam and married. If I do remember, since Shanti nager violence, Christians find it nearly impossible to get justice from the state when they are harassed or discriminated against.

Since then thousands of the Christians have fled to U.N. refugee camps in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and other countries. Where they are mistreated and see no future even. To acquire Thai and Malaysian visas is not difficult on the other hand European and US don’t allow any Pakistani Christian to entre in fearing they will go for asylum. Thus mostly are refused even if they are genuine.

According to report, the motive behind the Badamibagh, Lahore incident was personal grudge. But Sawan Masih sentenced to death accusing of blasphemy. Many Christians are behind the bars accused of lynching of Youhanabad. There are many laws and social norms firmly in place to ensure that Christians don’t dare think beyond what is prescribed for them.

This is very unfortunate that judiciary, government and its law enforcement agencies are not serious to resolve minority issues and have failed to protect minorities while parliament had failed to end discrimination among all nations of the country. Is this the country, founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah dreamed for?

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