A new day for Pakistan? The Aasia Bibi Verdict

Triggerfish Writing
4 min readOct 31, 2018

A strange thing has happened in the land of the pure, the bastion of Islam that is Pakistan. A woman imprisoned for almost nine years and who was on death row for blasphemy has been acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The reason I call this strange, is that in Pakistan it is. The country’s infamous blasphemy laws are used willy-nilly to settle personal scores and it is very difficult to be absolved of this ridiculous crime. Plenty of people are languishing in jail because they had supposedly “blasphemed” against Islam, its Prophet or the Qur’an. In fact, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was murdered for trying to get Aasia Bibi’s acquittal. And it is Aasia who has been acquitted today.

This is no doubt a landmark ruling, not least because there was absolutely no evidence against Aasia Bibi, but also because it shows that even though the case against her was entirely fabricated she still had to languish in jail for almost a decade before getting justice. Judges would recuse themselves from her case and lawyers were unwilling to represent her.

This is how hard it is to get out of the blasphemy trap in Pakistan. Her acquittal at least gives a little hope that others might get justice too. Much has to be said about her current lawyer Saiful Malook, who argued her case successfully in the supreme court and who is no doubt under threat for his life as well. Her previous lawyer, Naeem Shakir, died last year.

Of course, the religious fanatics cannot just let this go without an outcry. For them it is not important that there was no evidence against her. In Pakistan, the accusation of blasphemy is always the judgement — and sometimes the execution.

Now, TLP (Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan), a party of right-wing religious nut jobs, has come out on the streets to protest against the verdict. They have threatened the judges, the army chief, the government and, of course, Aasia and her lawyers. She and her family are still in danger and it is not clear when she will be released and where she will go.

TLP, like many other religious parties, has been newly propped up by Pakistan’s military establishment to keep tight control over democratically-elected governments. They (previously others like them ) have usually been…

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Triggerfish Writing

I write on science, history, nature, climate change, feminism, religion, politics & digital marketing. Check out my science and history blog: 360onhistory.com