Fast Track appeal hearing of Asia Bibi case in Supreme Court of Pakistan revoked
04 May 2017
London: May 4, 2017. (PCP) In what is now being referred to as Pakistan's version of the 'Barabbas exchange' two women are caught up in attempts to prevent their death by hanging for alleged criminal offences.
One side we have Asia Noreen Bibi (51 years) a berry-picker from the rural village of Ittanwali who in 2010 was accused of blasphemy after she drank water from a public well using the wrong cup. The cup she used was for use by Muslims only but Asia was not aware of this and after taking a drink, offered water from the same well to Muslim co-workers. The women spat at Asia Bibi, berated her and shouted abuse at her going as far as insulting Jesus her God and Saviour. In response Asia simply said: "My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you."
Her comment resulted in her being raped and beaten, her daughters sexually molested and Mrs Bibi's incarceration for the last seven years over an accusation of blasphemy. Asia Bibi now has a death sentence which she is trying to appeal which was thwarted at the Lahore High Court over a perceived 'Technical issue'. Moreover, Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, one of three set to hear the appeal, recused himself from her Supreme Court appeal case during October 2016, stating that there was a conflict of interest as he had already presided over the murder trial for Salmaan Taseer a former Punjab Governor assassinated by Mumtaz Qadri in 2011 for calling for Asia's freedom. Mr Rehman later resigned from his post as a Supreme Court Judge.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on 26th April turned down a request for an early hearing of the case of Asia Bibi. Her Muslim Lawyer Saif Ul Malook explained that Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar declined a request for the hearing of the case of Asia Bibi in the first week of June. He said: ý“Today I have been informed that the plea was declined by the CJP,”
Asia Bibi has become the most hated woman in Pakistan. In the run up too and during her initial failed Supreme Court Appeal hearing hundreds of thousands of protesters were recorded calling for her to be hanged - in every major city of Pakistan.
On the other side we have a young attractive single medical student from an elite family in Pakistan.
Noreen Jabar Leghari (20 yrs) a second-year student of MBBS in Liaquat University of Medical Science (LUMS), Jamshoro went missing from her family home two months ago (February 10th) and was reported to be in Syria where she joined up with terrorist group IS.
She was arrested on Easter Day during a security forces operation near Punjab Housing Society, Lahore. During the skirmish with security forces one man was killed and Noreen and two other suspects were arrested. Two suicide vests and other explosives and weapons were confiscated during the operation which also resulted in injuries to four soldiers. It is believed that the man killed during the raid is the husband of Noreen.
There has been a public outcry for mercy for Noreen Leghari as Many Muslims believe the promising medical student should be forgiven as they believe she has been unjustly misled due to her vulnerable age. Many Muslims across Pakistan do not want her life to be wasted in prison as it would destroy her bright future.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said. "Noreen Legahri is a woman intelligent enough to be considered for a role as a doctor yet is being described as pliable.
"Miss Legahri's animosity for Christians would no doubt have led to many deaths including her own, yet a 'soul searching nation' have a strong will and desire to show her mercy.
"How many of these same Pakistani citizens would be so forgiving had Miss Legahri planned to bomb a Muslim School?
"If it were Muslims that were targeted I am certain most would have found the crime too offensive for granting a pardon - but Christian lives are ostensibly worth less in Pakistan.
"I asked several Pakistani Christians whether they would trust a doctor who had previously attempted to bomb a Church on Easter Day, to administer care for them. It was no surprise to me that the unanimous response was a resounding no."
He added: "In this tale of two Noreen's I will assume the majority of the calls for clemency will be for Asia Bibi.
"Mrs Bibi's illustrated illiteracy would have limited her understanding of the provocation of her words to the growing number of zealots in Pakistan.
"Her words only challenge people to compare the sacrifice of Christ and its value to Christians in comparison to the nature of their prophets life and its value to Muslims, yet she has been deemed a blasphemer.
"The lack of intent to expedite Asia Bibi's case illustrates in no uncertain terms that hatred for Christians in Pakistan, manifests through all echelons of society.
"Judges are washing their hands of her case I don't think any are brave enough to acquit Mrs Bibi.
"It seems the final decision will lie with the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain through whom a last resort Presidential Pardon is mandated through the country’s constitution. Sadly, I am not convinced he will be brave enough to fulfill his duty to Pakistan's most hated citizen."