Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
In 2009, Aasiya Noreen, more commonly known as Asia Bibi drank water from a bowl which had belonged to fellow workers in a berry field.
That led to an argument because the women considered it a blasphemy that a Christian had drunk from the bowl of a Muslim.
Soon enough, the uproar led to a full-scale blasphemy accusation, where they insisted that she had insulted the Prophet. Asia bibi and her family were then confronted by a mob that stormed her house, beating her and her family. The police rescued and subsequently arrested her.
There are still educated families in Pakistan who disapprove of Christians touching their utensils and food. And these were illiterate laborers, so their thinking was even more bigoted than expected.
Why would they lie? Tell me, why Khalid Chishti lied
As for the fact, why would they lie? It was pointed out in court that this was to settle an old score. There were also discrepancies about what she actually said. Also, this would not be the first time for one to lie about such a thing.
A cleric, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti had lied about a 14-year-old girl, Rimsha Masih not so long ago. He accused her of desecrating and burning pages from the Quran, when in fact it was him who had planted the evidence in hopes to install enough fear in neighboring Christians that they leave the area altogether. Do note, he desecrated the pages himself, thus committing ‘blasphemy’. Rimsha was jailed, but eventually acquitted. She and her family were shifted to Canada on humanitarian grounds, because even though she was proven innocent, her life would still remain in danger in Pakistan.
The cleric, by the way, freely leads a normal ‘respectable’ life today even after deliberately trying to have a child killed by lying.
So, the fact that a Muslim would not lie about such a thing is just plain hogwash. A liar is a liar, irrespective of his or her religion.
Besides, no one is that stupid to actually commit blasphemy in the open knowing that the punishment by law is execution. And if that doesn’t happen, even a rumor is enough for a mob to lynch them. Do not forget what happened to Mashal Khan.
Eight years in jail for a crime never committed
Going back to Asia bibi, she has now been in jail for over 8 years. She is kept mostly in solitary confinement in an 8 by 10 cell. She is kept away from other prisoners because more than likely she would be killed by them. She even cooks her own food, to prevent it from being poisoned. It is documented that she has also suffered physical abuse from prison guards. She is extremely weak and frail.
Eight years for an innocent woman to be going through this. It is nothing less than cruel.
A new government, along with new challenges, also brings new hope. I would request Shireen Mazari, our new Human Rights Minister, to look into this case and give her justice. She has suffered enough and that too for a crime she did not even commit.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
The author is a staunch believer of equal rights and writes for top publications in the country. She can be reached @shamilaghyas