Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Lahore High Court has barred (?) President Zardari from offering a Pardon to Asia!
We have received this news from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance that the Lahore Court have placed a bar on any pardon from the President. This is due to the appeal having been entered by Asia's lawyers - which now means we will have to go through the legal process to see justice done for innocent Asia. Asia is surrounded by Lawyers that are pouncing at the opportunity to use her fragility for their own gain. I am aware of this during my conversations with Ashiq, he has been surrounded by herds of solicitors and charitable organistions, all telling him they know best.
Minorities were at the cusp of a groundbreaking decision by the President that would have set a positive precedent. Moreover, it would have illustrated that the President accepted that the Blasphemy Law of Pakistan was being used for corrupt intent. Moreover, I believe it would have forced a reform of the diabolical legal bias. The Lawyers around Ashiq will leach this opportunity I am sure, they have their very own cash cow and have upset much work from hardworking agencies that have struggled for a political landmark. In the meanwhile, this case will go on and poor Asia will be incarcerated for even longer. Is 1.5 years not enough torture on a mother and her family?
I sit in trepidation toady of the volatile atmosphere in the Lahore High Court, that will spill into the Nation as a whole. This is the same court that was mobbed by 300 Muslim Lawyers during the case of Asia Bibi - bring early hearings to an end and creating schism and polarisation between minorities and the Muslim Majority. Yet strangely enough some Christian Lawyers have led the cause for a high court hearing for Asia's case. Before the country erupts in violence I pray that the President intervenes and Pardons poor Asia.
Asia should be set free immediately despite the setting of the Appeal. There seems to be some ambiguity regarding whether the Lahore High Court can actually demand that the case be heard. By what statute do they make this demand?
I shall try to make contact with Shahbaz Bhatti and the All Pakistan Minorites Group to seek clarification. In the meanwhile, please keep Asia and her family in your prayers. You can hear the tone of disappointment from the writer of the message below:
The Lahore High Court has barred President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Asia Bibi, in a petition filed by Shahid Iqbal, a Pakistani advocate. Shahd Iqbal’s lawyer Allah Bux Laghari said a pardon at this stage would be illegal as the court was already hearing an appeal against her sentence.
Asia Bibi presented a mercy petition to President Zardari requesting pardon from the President after a lower court sentenced her to death on Nov 8th 2010 in a case stemming from a village dispute and falsely accused her of committing Blasphemy.
Shahbaz Bhatti Federal Minister for Minorities requested President Asif Ali Zardari to consider her mercy petition, if the there was an unnecessary delay in the proceedings of the Lahore High Court in Asia Bibi’s case.
The Federal Minister was asked by President Zardari to investigate this case and after investigating Shahbaz Bhatti said the allegations against Asia Bibi were fabricated, concocted and baseless and the blasphemy case against her is based on personal and religious enmity.
The Federal Minister said that under Article 45 of the constitution, the president of Pakistan has the authority to free convicts. The article states that: “The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority”.
Lahore High Court issued this order after lawyers argued that the president can not issue a pardon before the appeal is decided by the High Court.
Asia Bibi submitted an appeal against the death sentence to the Lahore High Court on 12th Nov 2010 but the Lahore High court has not yet set a date for the hearing of her appeal.
Please pray for the early hearing of the appeal of Asia Bibi, justice for Asia Bibi and for the protection of her and her family.
Research and Advocacy Cell
All Pakistan Minority Alliance (APMA)