Pak-Christians remember Asia Bibi on the 9th anniversary of her arrest
Lahore: June 18, 2018. (PCP) Mehwish Bhatti, Lead Officer for the British Pakistani Christian Association gathered with other Christians to mark Asia Bibi's 9th year in captivity with prayers for her freedom and release.
A narration of her arrest and the incident leading up to it was presented from the BPCA website on July 14th 2018, exactly 9 years on from her original blasphemy conviction. Faithful Christians raised prayers and expressed hopes for the gates of her jail cell to open and for Asia to be reunited with her family.
Young boys held signs saying, "Asia Bibi Pakistani Christians are with you," and "We are praying for Asia Bibi."
Hanging on the curtained wall a poster is hung that states 'Pakistani Christians want freedom for Asia Bibi.' Resonating with the heart's desire for Christians across the globe who all desire swift freedom for the beleaguered inmate who has been incarcerated in draconian conditions for almost a decade,
Mehwish Bhatti. said: "We stand together and prayer in agreement for the release of Asia Bibi."
"Asia believes she will be set free and her face is unquestionably, unshakeable! She is extremely proud of her Christian faith and would never deny the God."
"Asia cannot stay in Pakistan for a single second after her release, her enemies will kill her. I hope that the Pakistan government will protect my family when she is free and allow us to leave for a safer less hostile location. We have received offers of asylum in several western nations, and I will not regret leaving Pakistan the land of my ancestors, as we have seen too much animosity here. We will leave with no regrets."
Brave legislators, lawyers and judges have lost their lives for speaking up for her or for opposing the archaic blasphemy law, the list of martyrs includes:
Former Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and former Minister for Minorities Shabbaz Bhatti both of whom were martyred for his attempts to raise concerns over her incarceration and calling for a review of the infamous blasphemy laws.
Ashiq expressed thanks for their incredible sacrifice "Governor Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti the former federal Minister of Minorities, met with us and publicly declared Asia's innocence. They lost their lives speaking up for us and we are extremely grateful. They had great faith in the legal system of Pakistan and we fully believe the Supreme Court will release Asia Bibi on appeal. We believe in a mighty God who will set Asia free."
Passions are still high. Only recently an attempt to assassinate Ashan Iqbal is believed to have been triggered by his opposition to Pakistan's brutal blasphemy legislation.
Earlier this year the European Parliament spoke with concern about Asia Bibi but then rather supinely sanctioned Pakistan's human rights record by claiming it had improved. We can only hope that foreign governments will speak up for not only this simple woman who never intended to be a heroine of the Christian faith but also for those Pakistani Christians who continue to be targeted and abused in similar fashion. Nations have to do more than just watch these violations of human right transpire, their lack of action has allowed global extremism and intolerance increase with the impact now being felt on their shores too.
It is now three years since Ashiq expressed his hope for what the foreign governments might do for Asia Bibi. Asia's husband said:
"I want the British government to negotiate with the Pakistani government and sort out possible ways to free Asia. It has been almost six years for her in prison, how much longer must she stay locked up?"
BPCA continues to ask this question of all statutory authorities who may be able to assist her, but one thing is certain, God has not forgotten Asia Bibi and neither should we. Hebrews 13:3 (NLT) tells us:
"Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies."
BPCA has removed its former petition which had attained close to 20,000 signatures. We launch a new one today which we hope will be a measure of the continued support of Asia Bibi and a reminder to Pakistan that the world is watching their mistreatment of our innocent sister with disdain. We call on people across the world to support this petition by applying their signature that Asia might know that she has not been forgotten and that prayers and support are as fervent today nine years after her conviction, as when she first began her torturous journey to freedom.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "Sister Asia has lost some of the most important years of her life due to the intolerance towards Christians in a highly radicalised Pakistan. Her once young children are grown up but their desire for the company of their mother has never waned.
"Asia has suffered several assassination attempts and is forced to cook her own food due to attempts to poison her. Her sanity is eroding due to the severe isolation forced upon her and the depression caused by failed appeals against the trumped up charges that have destroyed her life.
"The nation of Pakistan must now release this innocent woman before her health fails her - she has suffered enough through no fault of her own. Moreover the pernicious blasphemy laws of Pakistan have to be terminated they serve no purpose in modern day society and are not even sanctioned by the Quran. Moreover what divine being would need man-made laws for protection?"
He added: "We will continue to pray for Asia Bibi and are encouraged by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar's commitment to hear Asia Bibi's appeal. We hope that the day of her appeal is set soon as any further delay only serves to reduce further Pakistan's poor reputation."