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Asia Bibi's Supreme Court judicial review date is set for the 29th of January, 2019.
The now infamous petition submitted by Qari Muhammed Salaam on behalf of firebrand preacher Khadim Hussain Rizvi which seeks to quash the acquittal received by Asia Bibi is the last hurdle in the long running saga of Asia Bibi.
The world waits anxiously to see whether the Pakistani government and courts will be true to their word and uphold the rule of law or whether more delays will ensue.
News of the long awaited judicial review date came via lawyer Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry who filed the petition for judicial review. (click here) He said to AFP news agency:
"The court will determine if our appeal against her acquittal is admitted."
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will, comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, will hear the review petition that was filed by Qari Muhammad Salaam on Tuesday. (click here)
After a 9.5 year incarceration which began in June 2009 of which 8 years were under the threat of a death sentence Asia Bibi was finally acquitted on October 31st 2018. (click here)
Though she was exonerated on 31st of October she was not actually out of prison until 8th November because of the mass violence that transpired and threats to her life and essential shit down the country until the government struck a bargain with the mob. Even after her departure from prison Asia Bibi need to remained under armed guard in a secret location throughout the entire ordeal.
The apex court had acquitted Asia, a Christian mother condemned to death on blasphemy charges, accepting her appeal against her sentencing. "Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt," the then Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar stated.
In both the trial held 8th October 2018 an date final verdict on 31st October, attention was drawn to the contrasting witness statements from the two key witnesses in the trial and the statement by an Imam who had initiated the blasphemy proceedings on the basis of hearing a blasphemy, yet was not in the vicinity of either of two flash-points in the accounts of her crime. (click here)
There have been many inquiries regarding the whereabouts of Asia Bibi's family to both the charities and governments around the world. BPCA is aware that the family of Asia Bibi is now in a very safe location and are no longer being chased house to house by extremists intent on enacting revenge on Asia Bibi, in the form of extra-judicial killings. Despite her acquittal Asia Bibi is determined to be a blasphemer by at least 90% of the nation of Pakistan and therefore a target for assassination.
Islamists continued to hunt for the family leaving them vulnerable until additional security measures were taken for Asia's entourage, and the militants have shown that they have been willing to make more ready targets of churches and Christian neighbourhoods. Young boys hung dolls meant to resemble Asia Bibi and sang songs calling for her death, and young men have said "Do not forgive her!" (click here)
An a young Pakistani Muslim man gives a sincere appeal prior to her 8th Oct court date to not forgive Asia Bibi for the charges she was found innocent of by the Supreme Court.
As long Asia Bibi she remains in Pakistan she is at risk despite her exoneration by the Supreme Court. There are concerned that this announcement has come through the appellant, as the network of Islamists that terrorised Pakistan demonstrated they were well connected on social media, and had pre-set plans to enact violence upon particular cues setting down the country, as they have done in the past.
Militants shut down the country following Asia Bibi's acquittal: blocking roads, looting, and killing innocents. Some leaders were later arrested, but the rioters were released.
Understandably it is difficult to be patient with the nation of Pakistan when an innocent woman still being restricted in her movements and prevented from progressing with her life because of the outcry of extremists. However, the general belief among the world leaders who have registered concern is that we need to be just that and let the judicial process run its course.
Wilson Chowdhry said:
"We know the family are in a very safe location and not under the pressure of relocating from house to house as they once were.
"After all this beleaguered family has been through they deserve to be together. Now is the time to free Asia so she and Ashiq can join them.
"The Government of Pakistan must uphold the rule of law if they desire any respect in the company of other civilised nations. The harsh and draconian blasphemy laws need to be repealed and done away with.
"Initially BPCA were informed that the review of the petition was to be on the 17th of January but the world suddenly went silent until the annoucement of this new date on the 29th of January. (click here)
"The fear that still precipitates in Pakistan on publicly naming dates for her trial is ludicrous and insane - no nation should cower to extremists in this fashion it is a disgraceful indictment for Pakistan. (click here)
"Basically the government has needed to keep her under lock and key just to keep Asia Bibi safe meaning that through this whole process she has been continuing a life of severe restriction, albeit a more comfortable one."
BPCA has been in constant contact with the family of Asia Bibi and members of our team spent time with them this fall in during a speaking tour in the UK just before the appeal was heard.
In September Wilson Chowdhry and his daughter Hannah met Ashiq Masih and his daughter Eliasham and the two young women presented together at an event highlighting Christian persecution in Pakistan. (click here)
Keri-Lynn Gibbs BPCA Canada representative said:
"After the judicial review was approved Asia Bibi's husband appealed for asylum to several western countries. BPCA was entrusted with this passionate plea for assistance and I personally uploaded it for the world to see.
"We are grateful to all the countries that offered asylum, were honoured to be privy to the final destination and into plans for the families safety.
"Now we simply pray for a quick and successful trial and the immediate reunification of this long beleaguered family."
Ashiq Masih called for safe haven in a western country
British Pakistani Christian Association, continues to provide advocacy and humanitarian aid to Christians in Pakistan and the Pak-Christian diaspora. We cannot do it without your help please donate by clicking (here)