Friday July 19, 2024

Christian community hopes SC decision to ensure justice for all

By Zoya Anwer
November 01, 2018

In the light of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to acquit Asia Bibi, the Christian community has expressed the hope that now all innocent citizens implicated in false cases will be able to get justice.

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, had been on death row in a blasphemy case since 2010. Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan, a three-judge bench had reserved the ruling earlier this month on her 2014 appeal against her conviction and death sentence.

Residents of Essa Nagri were thankful for the decision and hoped it would pave the way for other innocent victims as well. Shamsa, who lives in Essa Nagri, said there was a lot of commotion in the area after the news.

“We used to pray for her release and we are jubilant that she will now walk as a free woman. We feel this law is used to settle personal scores and this decision is a historic one for our community.

“Every Sunday, there were special prayers for her during mass and this Sunday would be more special because we would pray for her safety alongside the return of all those innocent people who are languishing in prisons right now,” she said.

She said women were sitting outside their homes within the area but were not stepping out to avoid any untoward incident, and due to a Rangers picket right outside the area they did not feel threatened.

“I think this should be a source of happiness for all of us that an innocent life has been saved. So, instead of protesting, this should be celebrated,” another resident said. Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) felt that while the decision should be lauded, there was a long delay in justice for Asia.

“This was long overdue because she spent eight years behind bars and much of it in solitary confinement. One can be grateful that they gave the right decision because the case had been a weak one since day one. The family should be provided security and Asia should be reunited with her family,” she said.

Speaking about the law and order situation in the city, she stressed that the state must take adequate measures to curb it. “They should learn from past experiences that whenever extremist groups are given space, they have emerged stronger so they should be dealt with strictness.”

She also said the blasphemy law must not be used by one community against the other. “I understand that all cases are different, but this law is often exploited by the majority, for personal benefits or grievances like to take over property among others.”

Nomi Bashir, who is an activist and contested the July 25 general election as an independent candidate, said the community was thankful to the bench who gave the verdict. “After a long time, we finally saw justice for the Christian community. We used to hear that justice prevails and we are glad that we too can witness it now.

“I think this should lead to peace and not disruption because this move should be welcomed. I feel that the security authorities are also doing a fine job because they are controlling the situation instead of letting it slip from their hands,” she said. Nomi also felt that this was a ray of hope for all those who were awaiting decisions too because the law was often used to frame people from the minority communities.