Massive protests enter second day in Pak against Asia Bibbi acquittal
INS Monitoring Desk
Major areas in Lahore have been sealed by protesters as the nationwide demonstrations against the acquittal of a Christian woman -Asia Bibi enters second day.
Supreme court’s verdict to acquit Asia,a Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy led to massive protests on Wednesday despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning to protestors according to Dawn.
Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, was on death row since 2010. She was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009.
Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of passing defamatory and insulting statements about Prophet(PBUH) in a public gathering on June19,2009,during an argument with her neighbourhood muslim women.
A trial court had found her guilty of the crime and awarded her the death sentence. Asia Bibi was convicted for blasphemy under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code for allegedly defaming Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The offence carries mandatory death penalty under Pakistani law.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld her conviction and confirmed her death sentence in October 2014.
The Supreme Court (SC) admitted her appeal when Asia had seeked for forgiveness , in July 2015. The first hearing of the appeal before the SC was scheduled to take place on October 13, 2016.
Its pertinent to mention here that in 2011, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who spoke out in support of Bibi, was gunned down in broad daylight in Islamabad. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed earlier in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder.
The lawyers of Asia Bibi approached the Supreme Court as a last resort, seeking repeal of her sentence.
A special three-member SC bench on October 8 reserved its judgement on Bibi’s appeal. At the time, no date had been announced by the court for when the verdict would be announced.
The SC on Oct 31 acquitted Asia Bibi, after accepting her 2015 appeal against her sentence. She was set free after the apex court found that the evidence against her was insufficient .
Protestors led by Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan and other groups reacted with violence . The protestors blocked major highways and important roads in different parts of Pakistan. Major disturbance was observed in Karachi, Lahore ,Islamabad and Punjab .
The schools and colleges remained shut in major areas.Mobile and Internet services were also suspended in most of the areas.Hospitals have been put on high alert.
Prime Minister Khan addressed the matter in a short video message that solely focused on the Asia Bibi verdict and its aftermath. The message was broadcast on state-run PTV.
He said he had been “compelled” to communicate with the nation due to the reaction given and language used by a “small segment” in response to the SC verdict.
Pakistan was founded “in the name of Islam” and the verdict given by the SC is in accordance with the Constitution, which is in line with the teachings of the Holy Quran and sunnah, he said.
He sharply criticised the protests that broke out, and are still underway, across the country in response to the judgement, saying people’s livelihood was being harmed through the roadblocks and demonstrations.
PM urged people of Pakistan to maintain law and order and not to pay any heed to people who want to create unrest in the country.
Meanwhile ,the landmark judgement by Supreme court has been welcomed by all sects of society.