Pakistan’s Hybrid Government and the Aasia Bibi Fiasco..

Aasia bibi is a poor Christian woman from a village in Punjab who was arrested for blasphemy in 2009. She got into an argument with some other women from the village while working in the fields (purportedly over her drinking from a cup of water and hence “polluting” it) and in the course of the argument she allegedly said something  “blasphemous” about the holy prophet of Islam. The details of the case are murky and no one seems to know for sure what blasphemous statement she actually made that day (the most commonly reported one is that she said something along the lines of “Jesus died for the sins of the world, what has your prophet done for humanity”; other versions exist; the investigating police officer claims that she said much more, but even quoting it wud be blasphemy, so look it up on wikipedia) but whatever the details, a case was registered under Pakistan’s uniquely harsh blasphemy law (a death sentence is mandatory in case guilt is proven) and she has been in prison ever since.

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As usually happens in blasphemy cases, she was sentenced to death by the local court (local judges usually feel it safest to convict any and all accused blasphemers, expecting that the most egregiously wrong verdicts will be reversed by higher courts that have better security). Meanwhile her case had come to national attention and the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, visited her in prison and spoke of her getting a presidential pardon. He was attacked in the media as a supporter of blasphemers and one of his own body guards shot him dead. The body guard was arrested and eventually hanged, but his grave has become a religious shrine and several ministers (including some in the current Imran Khan government as well as the opposition PMLN) have visited the grave to pay respects to this “hero”. Continue reading “Pakistan’s Hybrid Government and the Aasia Bibi Fiasco..”

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