Fair Trial


Shamim Masih examines religious and minority suffering in Pakistan using the Asia Bibi acquittal of her accused Blasphemy as a launching point.

JRH 2/8/19

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Fair Trial

 

By SHAMIM MASIH

Sent: February 4, 2019 9:40 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan, finally set aside a review petition of a Christian woman Asia Bibi, accused of blasphemy, after spent more than 8 years in prison. The decision is being warmly welcomed by rights activists, local and international community. The judgement is unclear about the action against those who falsely accused her of blasphemy and gave false testimonies to mislead the court and public though. I’m not law expert but the law teachers said that ‘for every wrong, the law provides a remedy’. He who wrongs another is to be punished. But there are significant remarks by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) while grilling the petitioner’s lawyer.

 

All we can say is, ‘little drop of water in the mighty ocean’. CJP Khosa rebuked the witness for lying under oath, and added that they would have been jailed for life if the case wasn’t so sensitive. But there is provision in law if Asia Bibi’s lawyer takes up the issue and files a case against those who falsely accused her of blasphemy, the courts would be morally bound to award a punishment to Asia’s tormentors. But victims of blasphemy in Pakistan usually refrain from challenging the false accusers even after they are acquitted.

 

The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt though welcomes this judgement during his launching speech on Persecution of Christians across the Globe independent review. He said, ‘I think the news about Asia Bibi this week is extremely encouraging, but the truth is that unless we make a real effort and unless the world knows that we are making a real effort, those bits of good news will become the exception and not the rule. And that’s what we don’t want to allow to happen’. He also showed his concerns about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan and said, ‘we particularly want to look at the issue of Christian persecution’. The US has already conveyed the concerns of the Christians persecution in Pakistan and Pakistan has been denying it.

 

As citizens, we have reciprocal rights and responsibilities. But in Pakistan, we have experienced that government always see the win-win situation. In the late November, 2018 the Prime Minister Imran Khan laid foundation stone for Kartarpur Corridor. The gesture is a breakthrough between two neighbouring countries and Pakistan widely claimed as protecting minorities’ rights. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal told the media in Islamabad before leaving for Kartarpur that the opening of the Kartarpur border was the historic step for welfare of minorities. ‘It shows that Pakistan takes care of minorities,’ he said.

 

Undoubtedly this is a significant move by the Pakistani government, if the dream comes true as there are grievances from the both sides. But if we see the govt. is playing and protecting minorities’ rights are only slogans. A delegation of young Pakistani Catholics was prevented by government officials from flying out of the country to join the Jan. 22-27 World Youth Day in Pakistan. The Fides news agency reported that 14 young Pakistani Catholics with regular visas who were about to fly out to join the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama were blocked at Lahore airport by Pakistan’s Department for Immigration Office. World Youth Day is an event for young people organized by the Catholic Church, which was initiated by Pope John Paul 2 in 1985. It is religious gathering and being organised every year by the Catholic Church.

 

The threatening letter to Churches issued by the local government is a clear violation of the Constitution of the country but also violating the international obligations. The Punjab government issued letter on January 02, 2019 saying to take all security arrangements and concerned departments are also directed to close/seal the Churches if in case failure of compliance of directives. While in the Constitution, the state is responsible to safe guard the rights and worship places of the minorities. Article 20 does not merely confer a private right to profess but confers a right to practice both privately and publicly. The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and the ultimate goal of the state should be to eradicate religious intolerance in Pakistan.

 

The sad reality is that such a policy exits on paper only. Religious and ethnic minorities continue to suffer discrimination. This continues despite the constitutional obligation to protect the life, property and worship places of all citizens regardless of their caste, ethnicity, religion or gender. The state plays the role of the bystander when human rights abuses occur at the hands of the powerful majority groups.

 

Minorities have regularly been hoodwinked into believing that their rights shall be guaranteed and protected by the state. The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and the ultimate goal of the state should be to eradicate religious intolerance in Pakistan. Ends/

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Masih

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[Blog Editor: Shamim also does Christian activism in Pakistan. It can be dangerous work in Islamic Pakistan. Please consider a contribution. The last I heard services like PayPal are not supported in Pakistan. The Western Union is a good way to send money which will transfer into Pakistan Rupee – https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/send-money.html; Shamim Masih; Islamabad; +92-300-642-4560.

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Edited by John R. Houk

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© Shamim Masih

 

Religious Bigotry


Blood Stained Pakistan Flag

Shamim Masih writes about pseudo-peace negotiations between the Islamic Terrorist organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – which is outlawed in Pakistan – and Pakistan’s recognized legitimate political parties. Shamim finishes by recognizing the propaganda absurdity of a seminar that took place sponsored by the Asian Study Group promoting the concept that Islam is a peaceful and tolerant of other (i.e. non-Muslim) religions. Here is the quote put out by the Pakistan event that Shamim responds to:

 

“Many mistakenly believe that Islam does not tolerate the existence of other religions. Islam recognizes that there are a plurality of religions on this earth, and gives the right to individuals to choose the path which they believe to be true. They gave the examples from the life of their Prophet (PBUH) epitomize the verse of the Quran which promotes religious tolerance and sets the guideline for Muslims’ interaction with people of other faiths.”

 

 

JRH 2/6/14

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Religious Bigotry

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 2/4/2014 7:17 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: Because of my internet problem, I couldn’t release however this matter forced me personally to do this. We are building not so much a multi-racial society or a multi-cultural society, we are building separate societies which really don’t have much to do with other. Equipped with just enough religion to hate those with another faith but not enough to love their coreligionists – Pakistanis have mostly turned their backs on religious atrocities. Religion is not to be, and was never, forced upon an individual against their own will.  Unfortunately Pakistan is facing terrorism and some Islamic fundamentalists want to impose their rigid rituals and rights and the Pakistani government is in a state of confusion whether to face them or to face terrorism. In this turmoil, government is again wasting time to negotiate with them, knowingly that this process will bring no solid result.

 

Taliban peacekeeping troops and government of Pakistan negotiators are meeting to devise a strategy for formally kick-starting a much-awaited dialogue process. The Taliban had nominated five prominent figures – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) [Alternative PTI profile] Chairman Imran Khan, Jamiat Ullma-e-Islam (JUI-S) chief Maulana Sami ul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islamai (JI) leader Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim, JUI-F politician Mufti Kifayat ullah and Lal Masjid prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz to act as intermediaries between them and the government’s negotiating team. But JUI and PTI – the two avid supporters of peace talks wished the proposed dialogue luck and excused themselves from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s intermediary committee. And now the Taliban will be nominate Insar Abbasi and Oriay Maqbool Jan in the squad.

 

Fawad Chaudhry, one of the PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party (Alternative PPP profile)] political leaders has demanded that people nominated by Taliban for negotiations should be arrested and investigated for their links with terrorists. I support his stance because once these people are living in the country and if they are representing the militant groups and will negotiate on their behalf it means that they are one of them either in spirit or practice.

 

Asian Study Group, in collaboration with Kuch Khass, arranged a multimedia presentation on Religious Tolerance & Islam. They believe that – “Many mistakenly believe that Islam does not tolerate the existence of other religions. Islam recognizes that there are a plurality of religions on this earth, and gives the right to individuals to choose the path which they believe to be true. They gave the examples from the life of their Prophet (PBUH) epitomize the verse of the Quran which promotes religious tolerance and sets the guideline for Muslims’ interaction with people of other faiths.”

 

I am not a religious scholar but I know about my faith and very well aware of it as well. I wanted them to ask, which Sharia you wanted to impose, either the Taliban design or what about the Sharia which is already imposed in the constitution of Pakistan or both? I feel it is already scripted and its nut shell is; both groups will sit and negotiate and design some restrictions to be imposed on margined position in the society like women and religious minorities. It may demand to tighten the rope and neck of the minorities likely poised to make the death penalty compulsory for blasphemy. Earlier Pakistan faced a looming deadline to either comply with a court ruling to amend the country’s penal code to make the death penalty the only lawful punishment for blasphemy or to appeal the order. It may restrict religious freedom or freedom of expression. It is already the practice that religious minorities are not leading a healthy life in this arena. I am afraid that Pakistani Christians are already living a miserable life and do not have the right to be heard. If the government shot the bullet putting on Taliban shoulders, what will be Christian future in this country?

 

Be Blessed,

Shamim Masih

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Edited by John R. Houk.

All explanatory links provided by the Editor. Brackets indicate Editor Additions to the text.

 

© Shamim Masih

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