After having spent eight years appealing against the trial court judgment of death penalty under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code, Asia Bibi has finally been acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The news, understandably, has come as a historical verdict in the blasphemy proceedings of Pakistan and so, has garnered a great deal of attention not only inside the country but outside as well.
As #AasiaBibi continues to trend on Pakistani Twitter, many have taken to the micro-blogging website to share their thoughts on the landmark decision.
May we always be ruled by the law of humanity. Pakistan Zindabad #AasiaBibi
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) October 31, 2018
#AasiaBibi 's acquittal means she was innocent. Her being innocent means she was #falslyAccused. False accusation is supposed to be punishable by law.. which was tabled and taken back! #Justice cannot be complete without it serving as a deterrent.
— afia salam (@afiasalam) October 31, 2018
Landmark judgement by Supreme Court to acquit #AasiaBibi today.False accusers took half her life away. Now the state must protect all those who stand for the rule of law and justice.We have all been witness to the havoc mobs have wreaked to red lines before.That line must be held
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) October 31, 2018
#AasiaBibi verdict SC: 'Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant’s religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was also not short of being blasphemous..'
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) October 31, 2018
Some also remembered Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, the two high profile individuals who were murdered for advocating for Aasia’s fair trial.
— Kashif N Chaudhry (@KashifMD) October 31, 2018
— Mubashir Zaidi (@Xadeejournalist) October 31, 2018
While hoping & praying for the safety of #AasiaBibi, her family and the judges, one just cannot stop thinking of #SalmanTaseer & #ShahbazBhatti —precious lives lost while standing up for the weak. https://t.co/WXbKaeKx1s
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) October 31, 2018
The Justices have shown mettle. Who would have honestly thought this was even possible anymore after needlessly losing Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti.
Now the state must not let the bench down.
Dont supplicate, negotiate. Put your foot down and right this ship. #aasiabibi
— Fasi Zaka (@fasi_zaka) October 31, 2018
A Snapshot of Asia Bibi’s Last 8 Years
Asia Bibi is a Christian woman and resident of Sheikhupura who was falsely accused of uttering blasphemous statements against Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) in 2009. A case was filed under the Blasphemy Laws against Asia after the alleged incident and she was convicted by the trial court in 2010, putting the accused on the death row.
Asia Bibi denied the allegations, expressing the respect she has for Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and claiming the blasphemy accusations as fabricated in order to settle personal scores.
The case was then taken to Lahore High Court (LHC) that upheld the death sentence in 2014 despite accepting the lack of a completely free trial.
Following the LHC verdict, the defendant approached Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2015 where her appeal was admitted. After several hearings, the three judge bench that includes Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel reversed the High Court sentence, dropping the blasphemy charges against Asia.
In the 56 page long judgment, it has been stated that Asia Bibi was proved innocent because of the failure of the prosecution in providing ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ – a requisite with respect to crimes worth of capital punishment.
— Asad Hashim (@AsadHashim) October 31, 2018
Why Asia Bibi’s Acquittal is the Best Thing to Have Happened to Pakistan in a Long Time
Pakistan is Finally Receiving Good Press
Be it capital punishment or blasphemy law, Pakistan has faced a lot of criticism for both from the international community. The allegations of supporting and mainstreaming extremist factions and persecution of the minorities has only added to the country’s woes.
Under the pretext of such dynamics, acquitting a woman belonging to a religious minority and that too fabricated in a blasphemy proceeding will undoubtedly help Pakistan redeem its foreign image, something that is the need of the hour.
Discouraging The Misuse of the Blasphemy Laws
Many innocent lives have been lost in the last few years owing to the misuse of the Blasphemy Law. Pakistan has still not recovered from the trauma of losing Mashal Khan, Qutub Rind and the minority couple Shahzad Masih and Shama who were wrongly accused of blasphemous acts.
A verdict in favor of Asia Bibi and words as strong as Justice Khosa’s against the complainant who falsely accused Asia for personal vendetta have set an example today that the criminal justice system of Pakistan will not tolerate any exploitation of the blasphemy laws.
This is a long awaited red line that has finally been drawn!
— maryam (@maryamful) October 31, 2018
A Message has Been Sent Out to the Extremist Elements
The verdict is a slap in the face of bloodthirsty fanatics who habitually freeze the whole country as a pressure tactic in order to enforce their will. Pakistan has already suffered a lot at the hands of these intolerant violent factions both nationally and internationally and cannot afford to give in anymore.
Although, at the time of filing this story, Khadim Rizvi’s Tekreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) had brought life in the country to a halt, injecting fear and uncertainity in the environment, the government and judiciary must stand firm on the judgment and must not let a group of goons decide the fate of the nation. The SC verdict in Asia Bibi’s case will send out a strong message to the radical groups that the judiciary won’t bow down to any pressure at the cost of innocent lives.
More than anything else, Pakistan needs this reassurance right now!