After having her appeal suddenly cancelled, the Christian mother-of-five is still on 'death row' for alleged blasphemy
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Following the shock news that Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother of five, had suffered yet another setback, and remains on "death row" in an isolation cell at the women's prison in Sheikhupura, Punjab, a Pakistani human rights defender has stepped forward to say that he and his organization plan to do all they can to help free Ms. Bibi.
Asia Bibi, still languishing on
Asia Bibi's appeal hearing was set for Monday, March 17, 2014, but was then suddenly been postponed "to a later date".
The hearing was cancelled at the last moment at the Lahore High Court due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. Under Pakistani law, two judges have to be present in death penalty cases for the entire trial.
Now, Advocate, Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Human Rights Defender, and Chief of Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), has stepped forward to pledge the full support of his organization in working towards her freedom.
In a message to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), he said that during a meeting of LEAD's legal panel was decided to play a key role in trying to secure the acquittal of Asia Bibi, who was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Muhammad. In 2010, she was sentenced to death under the country's "black law'". Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard.
The High Court in Lahore, where the appe al will eventually be heard, will have to decide whether the Christian woman committed a crime, namely drank a glass of water from a well owned by a Muslim.
As a result of this act, she was accused "of contaminating" the well, which was followed by a row with fellow workers and eventually the indictment for "insulting Muhammad."
Advocate, Sardar Mushtaq Gill
Gill, in his message, said that, "LEAD is only legal aid Christian faith based organization which is not funded by any international organization. So, if any individual or organization, wish to be our partner in this noble cause to defend the defenseless [including Asia Bibi] and [other] members of the persecuted Church in reality, and with true vision and mission in Pakistan, we at LEAD will welcome them."
His went on to say, "Over the months a new strategy by the extremists has come into light. They target particular persons, seek extortion money and intimidate Christians in the name of Islam. At times they even get easily 'Fatwas/Religious decree' [True or false] which does not matter, because they use the overall psyche of the 'Mob', who will not investigate into the allegations made against anybody and will resort to all possible acts of extremism against the accused on the street, even going as far to burn the house of the accused and along with the other Christians.
"The common Muslim claims that it is his right to kill those accused under the blasphemy law and also those who support them."
Since Asia Bibi's conviction, there have been two brutal murders of Pakistani leaders who have supported her case.
Salmaan Taseer pictured during his meeting with Asia Bibi, for which he paid with his life
The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his own guard, Malik Mumtaz Qadri for supporting Asia Bibi, branding the blasphemy laws "black" and demanding changes. Malik Mumtaz Qadri is still in prison and considered a "hero of Islam" by many in the country.
Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, was also killed for supporting her and demanding changes in the controversial blasphemy laws, which Christians consider the root cause of their persecution.
Gill closed his message with a prayer request in which he asked for Christians around the world to "to pray for wisdom, resources and courage [for his legal team] to deal [with] and give legal assistance in these sensitive cases."