By Matters India Reporter
Chiang Mai, Nov. 1, 2018: The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has lauded Pakistan’s Supreme Court for acquitting Asia Bibi, convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 on charges of committing blasphemy.
The apex court overturned the death sentence on October 31 in a historic ruling.
“The reversal of the judgment of the high court, as well as trial court and setting aside Bibi’s conviction in a ruling by Pakistan’s Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, is laudable,” stated CCA general secretary Reverend Mathews George Chunakara.
“It is credible that despite extremist Islamist groups and mobs clamoring for Asia Bibi’s death sentence, the Supreme Court stood firm on its decision based on facts, not misguided emotions and insinuations,” added the CCA official.
Chunakara further stated that the apex court’s decision signals the commitment of the judiciary in Pakistan to uphold its independence, and protect the rights of the vulnerable religious minorities in the country.
The CCA general secretary commended the “bold steps” of Prime Minister Imran Khan to address the issue directly and unambiguously by strongly defending the court decision.
“The prime minister’s determination of issuing a stern warning to religious extremists who have been agitating against the verdict to acquit Asia Bibi is commendable,” he added.
The allegations against Bibi date back to 2009, when Muslim field laborers working alongside refused to share water with her because she was Christian.
Bibi was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death in 2010, despite her advocates maintaining her innocence and insisting the argument was a personal dispute.
Blasphemy is an incendiary charge in Muslim majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam can provoke a violent and bloody death at the hands of extremist Islamists.
It was reported that 62 people have been killed for blasphemy since 1990 even before their trial could be conducted in accordance with the law.
Although Pakistan´s beleaguered Christian community rejoiced at Asia Bibi’s acquittal, they live now amid fear and lack of security.
The blasphemy law supporters and Islamic extremists together with miscreants have organized protests on streets, and pelted stones at police in main cities.
Several parts of the Country remained tense because of the protests. Most schools remained closed, and hospitals were placed on high alert. The railway network in Lahore suffered disruptions because of protests and suspension of mobile phone signals.
CCA has urged Pakistan authorities to ensure the security of the acquitted along with her family as well as the lawyers who argued her case in courts.