Scottish politicians have urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to hear the appeal case of Asia Bibi. In in this regard, they have written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar calling for an immediate court hearing of the Christian woman’s case.
The addressers are Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) from the Freedom of Religion or Belief Cross-Party Group have requested the addressee to stop the delay in hearing the case of Asia Bibi. “Ms Bibi has since been waiting for the Supreme Court to fix a date for hearing her case. Can we urge you to please make sure that the court schedules a hearing date as soon as possible?” the letter said.
John Mason, the Member of Scottish Parliament who convener of the Freedom of Religion or Belief Cross-Party Group in an interview told the Premier: “Some Pakistani government ministers and court lawyers have tried to deal with this [persecution in Pakistan] but actually one or two of them have been executed over the years, just because they stood up for a minority, i.e. for the Christians there.”
“So, it’s not easy, I accept, for the government and the courts but if things are going to improve in any country the courts and government have to take a firm line,” he added. Speaking on the probable outcome of writing to the Chief Justice of Pakistan he said: “I think we have experienced in the past that if there’s international people speaking out about these things then some governments at least do take notice.”
He said that this is a high profile case attracting attention not only from Christians across the globe but from international organizations and groups. “I think in this particular case, Asia Bibi, has attracted attention, not just from Christians around the world but Amnesty International and others.”
He said that there were certain elements that are bent on execution of Asia Bibi, despite the fact that there is no credible evidence against her and she should be acquitted, but there is no guarantee that she would be freed even if her case is heard on priority basis, he asserted.
Asia Bibi’s quandary lingers along due to unwarranted delay: “The case continues to be postponed due to the problems of this country. We are in the midst of a continuing war between Islam and Kufr (infidels). But our hopes for her release are many,” Asia Bibi’s attorney said last year.
In October 2016, Supreme Court judges called off the trial of Asia Bibi to a date yet to be determined. A Supreme Court bench consisting of three members and led by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, decided to adjourn the court after one of the judges of the bench decided to quit the bench. Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman retired from the case maintaining that he had also been part of the bench hearing the case of Salman Taseer’s murder.
Asia Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers back in 2009. Later on, in 2010, a court in district Nankana awarded her capital punishment, which was later challenged by Asia’s defense counsel and was upheld by a two-member bench of Lahore High Court in 2014. Her appeal case is currently pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.