Pakistan’s Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Tuesday against its own decision to acquit a Christian mother, Asia Bibi, of blasphemy. Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and jailed in June 2009 under a sentence of death after she drank from a water vessel which, it was claimed, was reserved for Muslims. Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard her appeal in early October last year. On 31 October they acquitted her of all charges, but she remained in prison until 8 November. Her acquittal sparked violent protests across the country which abated after the government allowed an extremist group to appeal the Supreme Court judgment.
Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will hear the judicial review, alongside Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
Clearing Asia Bibi last year, the Supreme Court said that there inconsistencies in the evidence against Asia Bibi, and that the main witnesses were not even present when Bibi was said to have made disparaging remarks against the Muslim prophet Mohammed. “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 Supreme Court said.
“The Government of Pakistan must uphold the rule of law if they desire any respect in the company of other civilised nations”, the Chair of the British-Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), Wilson Chowdhry, who has followed the case closely, said. “The harsh and draconian blasphemy laws need to be repealed and done away with.”
He continued: “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 and have been glad to be privy to the final destination and plans for the families safety.
“Now we simply pray for a quick and successful trial and the immediate reunification of this long beleaguered family.”