Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who was sentenced to death by a third-rate Pakistani judge in Punjab on a charge of blasphemy might be killed in jail, a leading adocate of Christia rights has petitioned Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.
“There have been dozens of incidents of killing of Christians, who were accused of blasphemy.in police custody or jail,” Dr. Nazir Bhatti, who himself might have been killed in Pakistan because of his outspoken criticism of the inhuman treatment of Christians, said
Bhatti said Aasia Bibi can not have fair trial in Pakistan as Muslim religious groups and Islamic political parties are demanding her death.
Aasia Bibi, a farm hand, who was toiling in the summer heat was asked by her employer to bring water for other female workers. When she returned with the water, the Muslim women refused to drink the water as they said she was a filthy Christian.
Christians in Pakistan are called bhangees or chooras as they do the dirtiest job of cleaning gutters and bathrooms of Muslims, sweeping floor and as scavengers. Their only channel of upward mobility is becoming nurses, but even nurses are routinely raped by Muslim doctors, Pakistan media reports show.
Aasia Bibi is said to have protested this inhumane treatment, but some of the women accused her of badmouthing Prophet Mohammed.
Aasia Bibi, a Christian resident of village Ittanwali,was found guilty of blasphemy on November 8, 2010, by Additional District and Session Judge Seikhupura, Mohammad Naveed Iqbal. The judge sentenced her to death.
Bhatti said on November 18, 2010, Latif Masih aged 22, was shot dead in Punjab no sooner than he was granted bail after five months of imprisonment for “blasphemy” for allegedly burning pages of the Quran.
The other cases by Bhatti to Ki-moon are
1- On September 16, 2009, Robert Danish, a Christian youth was killed in Sialkot Central Jail in a security cell waiting for trial in a blasphemy case.
2- Islamic militants gunned down Justice Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti of Lahore High Court on October 19, 1997, in his office on acquitting two people who were accused of blasphemy.
3- On June 5, 1994, a blasphemy accused Manzoor Masih was killed in front of Lahore High Court by Islamic extremists.
4- Bantu Masih, 80, and Mukhtar Masih, 50, were arrested on the allegation of committing blasphemy and stabbed to death in Police Station in city of Lahore.
5- Tahir Iqbal facing sentence in blasphemy was killed in Lahore Distict Jail on July 7, 1991.
6- A Christian teacher Niamat Ahmar was also killed by Islamic extremists on accusation of blasphemy law.
“The Islamic extremists are taking law in their hands and murdering Christians falsely accused in blasphemy in broad day light to win heaven for themselves. It is on public record that radical elements gunned downed Pastor Emmanuel and his brother Sajjid in compound of District Courts Faisalabad, when brought in police escort for hearing in blasphemy case on July 19, 2010,” Bhatti said.
Bhatti appealed to Ki-Moon to press upon government of Pakistan to repeal blasphemy law because its contradictory to Declaration of Universal Human Rights of United Nations on which Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a signatory state.
“The incidents of abduction and enforced conversions of Christian women and gang rapes have risen in Punjab province of Pakistan. The 90% cases of blasphemy have been registered against Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and other religious minorities in Punjab province where Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz PML(N) rules which legislated capital punishment for Section 295-C PPC, during premiership of its leader Mian Nawaz Sharif,” Bhatti said, adding, “The Muslim mob involved in burning alive seven Christian women and children in Gojra are roaming free because culprits are voters of PML(N) while Federal Government of Pakistan Peoples Party PPP is silent on injustice towards minorities because of its power sharing arrangemenet with the Punjab government.”
Bhatti, who now lives in Philadelphia, is president, Pakistan Christian Congress PCC (www.pakistanchristiancongress.org)
and editor of Pakistan Christian Post (www.pakistanchristianpost.com).
According to National Commission on Justice and Peace NCJP, more than 974 blasphemy cases have been filed between 1986 to 2009, against members of religious minorities under section 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code, Bhatti told Ki.moon.
Section 295-C of blasphemy law was introduced in the Pakistan Penal Code in 1986, during the days of U.S.-backed dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq.. Under this Section, any person guilty of defiling the name of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) could be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.
Later, in 1991, instead of life imprisonment, capital punishment was inducted under the direction of the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan.
Other black laws that target religious minorities in Pakistan are the Hudood Ordinance and the Law of Evidence and Compensation.