ISLAMABAD: Asia Bibi’s defence counsel urges for international pressure for the release of Pakistani Christian woman who is convicted of blasphemy.
Naeem Shakir, human-rights lawyer who is Asia Bibi’s defence counsel has strongly denounced the blasphemy law under which Asia has been sentenced to death. According to him the law is being used as the “tool of oppression.” Naeem Shakir, urged the international community to pressurize the Pakistani authorities to reform the law. “Sharing your concern from wherever you are is important,” he said, because “no change is forthcoming, due to the unavailability of any kind of dialogue. . . We do not find anywhere to seriously deliberate these issues.”
He went on to say, “Political actors are not concerned . . . to deliver justice. . . . They do not want to distress their constituencies by disturbing the religious extremists. There was now,” he said, “a wrong public impression, created by vested interests, that this law is . . . divinely mandated”, whereas it had been “framed by earthly men” and did a disservice to Islam, undermining the “basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence”. As a man-made law, it was “not static”, and could be reformed. “This law is flawed. This law is against the Qur’an and a tool of oppression.” The death penalty for blasphemy was recommended in Pakistani law in 1986. He went on to argue that as for those who present argument that, without the blasphemy law, people would take justice into their own hands, he said: “People are already doing that.” He pointed to the case of a Christian couple beaten and burned alive in a brick kiln in November after they were accused of blasphemy.
He pointed out the “contradictions” in the witnesses’ testimonies and a six-day delay in bringing the accusation against Asia Bibi. He further criticized that the atmosphere in courts also prevented the administration of justice, owing to the intimidating presence of “religious extremists”.