Thursday, November 25, 2010

GIVE US AAFIA & TAKE AWAY AASIA

By Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad

USA and British governments, reportedly has offered asylum to Aasia Bibi while International and national NGO’s have expected to jump in, to ‘cash in’ the issue soon after. Aasia has already rejected the blames of committing Blasphemy while radical forces now busy in staging protests against the expected ‘pardoning’ from President Zardari- using his discretionary power.

The dejected looking family members of Aasia Bibi, who is allegedly found convicted of Blasphemy Law in Ittanwali village of Nankana Sahib, district Sheikhupura, met federal minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, who assured them Ministry would protect Aasia as she according to his case study is innocent. The family members also hand over the mercy petition to minister on the occasion.

Talking to media persons on Wednesday (November 24) at his office where Aasia Bibi’s husband Aashiq Hussain Maseeh , 50 with his two daughters Sidra 9, and Eesham 18 met the minister, Bhatti said within a week he would submit a comprehensive report to prime minister that would also taken to President later on requesting the mercy plea.

Asia Bibi, who works as a peasant plucking ‘Falsa’ in filed and was sentenced to death by lower courts by dragging into blasphemy over a minor skirmish of fetching water, the minister said.

Minority affairs minister said his ministry is diligently working over the peaceful solution of the issue and use all legal and constitutional rights to fight for mercy of Bibi. “I am confident that President Asif Ali Zardari would pardon Aasia, a mother of 4 daughters, because she had been falsely accused,” he added.

According to ministry’s investigation, Bhatti said it was a personal dispute and she did not commit blasphemy. The Minister said president Zardari had commissioned him to investigate the case within three days and it has been made. “I will hopefully submit my report to the prime minister soon after he came back from abroad and recommend him to grant pardon to Aasia,” he added. “She is innocent and the case against her is concocted and baseless,” Bhatti emphasised.

The minister said blasphemous cases like this registered in the past many a times and every time lower courts sentenced the ‘culprit’ a death penalty whereas the Higher Courts acquitted the alleged person because of wrongly conceived and hurried made biased decision.

Bhatti said he has invited all stakeholders including political and religious parties’ members, rights and social activists, and lawmakers to amend the Blasphemy laws in country that is the product of Gen. Zia’s regime.

The minister said the president has taken notice of this case ... he is concerned on this issue," Bhatti said, adding that Zardari has the power to pardon her even ahead of the higher court appeal.

Replying to a question whether asylum is the only solution for salvation of Bibi as even if she is pardoned, the threats to her life wont get reduced, the minister said reports in media about asylum invitation from west is baseless. “Bibi is behind the bars in district jail, Sheikhupura and we are fighting for Aasia’s clemency- who is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law.

Talking to this scribe, spouse of Aasia Bibi- Aashiq Hussain said that his family members are under constant threats of lives from radical forces. “They are threatening my daughters and my siblings are terrified,” Hussain said.

He said everyday the protestors staged demonstration against Aasia with an urge to implement the courts’ order of death. “They abused Aasia and all of us and raised slogans against the appeals,” he said.

Hussain said he has 2 houses- one belong to him and in other his brother reside but now we have left that place as scary threats are making their lives hell on this earth.

He said when district court made the decision, none of us was given the opportunity to defend the case neither the court bothered to invite us.


My wife was sentenced in June 2009 and has been in jail for over a year. She has denied the charge of blasphemy, Aashiq Hussain said.

It started off over minor dispute when my wife was ordered by wife of Alambardar (Village Chief) of village Muhammad Tufail to fetch water for her. “When she did it the fellow female colleagues sitting with wife of Chaudhary refused to drink it and used derogatory remarks against Aasia Bibi- being a christian,” Hussain maintained.

He said later Muhammad Tufail also used foul language against Aasia. “Consequently, Aasia responded back that made Chaudhary outraged. Later on, he alongwith accomplices coloured this incident as blasphemous promulgating Aasia used derogatory words for Muhammad (pbuh) and Quran- the holy book,” Hussain narrated the sorrow tale.

He said none of us ever imagined to commit this act as we have been living there since ages and no incident ever occurred in the name of religion. “The day when case was registered Aasia was plucking the ‘Falsas’ in the field. But Qari Islam, (a qari of local mosue) filed the case against Aasia who was not on the scene and was hardly aware what actually happened,” he said.

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