ISLAMABAD: At a time when the whole world is deeply concerned over Aasia Bibi’s death sentence for blasphemy issued by a local court, Pakistani citizens and human rights activists believe that the case of Aasia Bibi is no different than the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in the sense that both negate the concepts of equality and justice.
Reportedly several Pakistanis find themselves concerned over the case of Aasia Bibi (a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy) the same way as they are distressed over the detention of Aafia Siddiqui (imprisoned for 86 years in USA jail).
Ahmed Quraishi, a public policy writer commented, “Aasia Bibi is our sister and needs our help against a fake case. But the champions of her case must be Muslim scholars who know how tolerant and open-minded Islam is truly.” He also pointed fingers towards the state’s silence and of many government officials who want to abolish the blasphemy law now but they never uttered a word against the injustice done to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
According to a local newspaper editorial, “Minorities are increasingly under pressure from the mischief of this deeply-flawed law and there is no one who would agitate the way some of us are agitating for the release of Aafia Siddiqi from an American jail.”
Commenting on the status of Pakistani government regarding Siddiqui’s case, Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission said “As the government acted in the case of Aasia Bibi, it should also take action in Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s case and file a lawsuit to ask for her freedom.” Haider further criticized the administration saying that Pakistan has expressed inaction and indifference to the case of Siddiqui which should be the priority of the government.
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Dr Waseem Akhtar has said that the leaders were worried about Aasia bibi who has recently been awarded death penalty in blasphemous case but they were least interested in release of Dr. Aafia who is in jail of USA for 86-year imprisonment. Comparing the case of Aasia bibi to Dr. Aafia said “no one is raising voice for the release of Dr. Aafia, whose punishment is against the international laws and Geneva Convention.” He demanded Pakistan govt to file case of Dr. Aafia in the World Court of Justice and raise it at UNO and OIC level.
Pressure mounts on President Asif Ali Zardari to weigh in on the fate of a Christian woman recently sentenced to death for blasphemy as the case has drawn the attention of the international community and has sparked street protests in the country.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been condemned globally from the time it was formulated. Pope Benedict XVI last week called for Bibi’s release and said Christians in Pakistan were “often victims of violence and discrimination.”
In a report delivered to President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday, Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti recommended that Aasia Bibi, be pardoned or released from prison if her pending court appeal is not quickly addressed. The Minister has also suggested amendments to the nation’s controversial blasphemy law.
The report followed calls for clemency by Pope Benedict XVI, human rights groups, newspapers and the governor of the province where Bibi was convicted, becoming the first woman condemned to hanging for blasphemy.
Aasia Bibi, 45, a mother of five, a Pakistani Christian, was arrested for blasphemy. She has been in prison for one and a half years and on November 8, 2010, a local court sentenced to hang for defaming Prophet Mohammad under blasphemy laws.