Asia Bibi's husband asks President Mamnoon for pardon

Published November 20, 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

ISLAMABAD: The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy four years ago has written to the president to ask for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.

Asia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman.

A high court in the eastern city of Lahore confirmed the death sentence last month, dashing hopes it might be commuted to a jail term.

Read more: LHC upholds blasphemy convict Asia Bibi's death penalty

“We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President (Mamnoon) Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water,” husband Ashiq Masih wrote in an open letter dated November 17 and published by the New York Times.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said the couple are welcomed in the city, and Masih quoted his wife as saying she sent her “deepest thanks to you Madame Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world”.

Masih added his wife was not guilty of blasphemy.

The plea for being allowed to move to Paris comes days after the mayor of the city Anne Hidalgo requested President Hussain to grant her a pardon.

Senior opposition leader Bruno Retailleau Wednesday asked French President Francois Hollande to intervene in the case.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the majority Muslim country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.

Masih, 50, lives in hiding with two of his five children and has to keep his identity secret as he scrapes together a living as a daily labourer.

He visits his wife once a month, making a five and a half hour journey to her jail in Multan in southern Punjab.

The allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009, when she was labouring in a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women she was working with.

Read more: Christian woman sentenced to death in blasphemy case

She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations.

Amnesty International has raised “serious concerns” about the fairness of her trial and has called for her release.

Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy and has had a de-facto moratorium on civilian executions since 2008.

But anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Opinion

Coping with Covid perils
01 Aug 2021

Coping with Covid perils

Little accountability in countries such as India and Pakistan has meant whimsical decision-making.
A missing placard
Updated 01 Aug 2021

A missing placard

Scrutiny, protests, and swift police action are no guarantees of justice.
Urban flood risk
01 Aug 2021

Urban flood risk

Flood risk has been exacerbated by unchecked encroachments.
No woman’s land
Updated 31 Jul 2021

No woman’s land

We don’t just have violent men. We have a violent system.

Editorial

Necessary lockdown
Updated 01 Aug 2021

Necessary lockdown

AS the countrywide positivity ratio of Covid-19 infections crossed 8pc, Sindh imposed a nine-day lockdown effective...
01 Aug 2021

No Olympic glory

FOR about 30 minutes at the Tokyo Olympics weightlifting competition last week, Talha Talib remained in the podium...
01 Aug 2021

Preventable E-11 flooding

THE flooding on Wednesday in Islamabad’s E-11/2 sector is deserving of the shock it has spawned. The flouting of...
China-Taliban meeting
Updated 31 Jul 2021

China-Taliban meeting

WITH the government in Kabul appearing to stand on very fragile foundations, and as the clock ticks down to the ...
31 Jul 2021

Outages in Makran

IT is no surprise that people in Balochistan’s Makran Division have of late taken to the streets to protest in the...
31 Jul 2021

Reduction in polio cases

AFTER the long and tedious efforts of those running the national polio programme, there are signs that Pakistan ...