The story of Asia Bibi does not matter in Pakistan

Published November 1, 2014
Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi. – Reuters Photo/File
Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi. – Reuters Photo/File

Like all those accused of blasphemy by the twisted mullah-obsessed minds, Asia Bibi’s cry for justice has fallen on deaf ears.

For Pakistanis, Asia Bibi is a menace; another woman defaming the honourable men of this country, another figure challenging them to introspection, another symbol against the creeping social bigotry.

We are remarkably apt at constructing alternate narratives about our society, based on obscure conspiracy theories, aimed at upholding the ‘pureness’ of the land of the pure.

Also read: Asia Bibi losing hope on death row: family

Malala, Mukhtara Mai and Abdus Salam would have been national heroes had they perhaps only been born to a society with the ability of holding a mirror to itself.

Except, they were not.

They were rewarded for their struggles by being condemned to the dark corners of history after being selectively erased out of textbooks so their stories may not be heard.

Also read: A letter from Dr Abdus Salam to Malala

Asia Bibi is no different. Having been on death row for over four years for alleged blasphemy, she has successfully been blacked out from major media coverage.

This media blackout is even more remarkable considering that the few voices that spoke out against the sheer injustice done to her, including the then governor of the Punjab province, have now been silenced with a few bullets.

For most countries the shame of a governor being assassinated by his own guard would have been almost unbearable. However in Pakistan, after publicly admitting to the assassination of the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the assassin was accorded a hero's welcome when he made his first court appearance.

Also read: Mumtaz Qadri, Prison King

Perhaps, it is then no surprise that the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence for Asia Bibi earlier this month. It is perhaps also not a surprise that no one has spoken up against the court’s decision, not even the so-called revolutionaries.

Women and minorities form the lowest segments of Pakistan’s society and a combination of the two results in the most vulnerable portion of the country’s population. Asia Bibi, therefore is a soft target for Pakistan’s religious right that has now found influence in the country’s prominent military, judicial and parliamentary quarters.

The irony of the matter is almost beyond belief. Those who continue to defame Islam, the Prophet and the Quran everyday by misleading people to the path of violence, hatred and anger are allowed a free hand, while those who are weak and vulnerable are dealt with an iron fist.

In a country where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim, laws need to be made to protect the minority from the majority and not the other way around.

Timeline: Accused under the Blasphemy Law

The foundation of Pakistan was laid on the principles of peace, tolerance and religious freedom and as a society it is our responsibility to uphold these values to protect the weak and the vulnerable around us.

The white on Pakistan’s flag was meant to represent the religious freedom for the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities in the Pakistan.

So, the next time when, in your patriotic zeal, you decide to wave your flag vehemently, pause for a second and ask yourself:

“Does this flag really represent my country today?”


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