Author: Dr. Asim Yousafzai:
Progressive Pakistan Alliance (PPA) has severely criticized the government of Pakistan for its failures in the case of Aasia Bibi, the Catholic woman who was wrongly sentenced to death over a concocted Blasphemy allegation.
Currently, there are conflicting reports regarding the whereabouts of Aasia Bibi, but in all likelihood, she has already left the country. Her lawyer has already left the country over threats to his life. Blasphemy is a taboo subject in Pakistan.
Progressive Pakistan Alliance, a nonprofit organization in Washington DC, with its members across the US, expresses its support for Pakistan’s Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Aasia Bibi on a blasphemy charge for which she has spent nine years in prison.
PPA, however, strongly condemns Pakistani state’s inaction during riots that ensued in wake of this decision which resulted in billions of rupees damage to private property. PPA condemns state’s agreement with the rioters to reconsider the decision of the Supreme Court.
PPA states that continued protests and street slogans against the verdict are creating an environment of fear for the minority communities, especially the beleaguered Christian community of which Aasia Bibi is a proud member.
It is the state’s responsibility to protect lives and properties of its citizens, regardless of their faith or no faith. PPA stresses the fact that Pakistan is not a theocracy where clergy will decide who should be punished or acquitted.
PPA statement further adds that other citizens, accused of Blasphemy charges, who are lingering in jail for several years should be released without further delay. PPA especially mentions Junaid Hafiz, a professor at Baha Udin Zakaria University, Multan, who has been imprisoned without trial. His lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was killed by extremists in 2014.
PPA warns Pakistan’s ruling civil and military leadership that Pakistani diaspora will not remain indifferent if Pakistani minorities are targeted in this wave of intolerance and if mob killing is not controlled of all those who are merely accused of blasphemy.
Two high profile politicians, Governor Salman Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti have already lost their lives over defending Aasia Bibi. PPA urges the US government and Congress to take notice of the misuse of blasphemy laws and uncontrolled mobs on the street killing those who are accused of blasphemy or are defending blasphemy victims.