Category : Pakistan

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Pakistan’s Supreme Court upholds Asia Bibi’s acquittal

Ms Bibi was first acquitted last October, but the government backed away from freeing her unconditionally after a wave of rioting orchestrated by an ultra-zealous Islamist political party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which continued to demand her death. The party’s leader was among those arrested after the riots and remains in prison. Under a bargain with the protesters, the government agreed to ask the Supreme Court to review her acquittal and to prevent Ms Bibi from leaving the country pending those proceedings. The public response to this latest decision has been more muted than it was in October, with the Pakistani authorities seemingly better prepared to withstand an onslaught.

The case has triggered an international furore, with the accused woman’s husband Ashiq searching for a country which was prepared to offer her asylum and risk the ire of Islamic extremists (Canada, Spain and France are thought to have offered asylum). She is most likely to go to Canada, where two of her children have reportedly moved this week. Britain’s Foreign Office admitted that it had not granted Ms Bibi asylum for fear of endangering its own staff in Pakistan. The move prompted protests from politicians and religious leaders in Britain who insisted that the country should not allow itself to be intimidated. Although Pakistan’s blasphemy laws enjoy some support in the country’s diaspora, including in Britain, several British imams urged the government to take Ms Bibi in and face down the extremists.

A representative for Amnesty International, a London-based human-rights body, urged the Pakistani authorities to implement the verdict swiftly. She said: “Asia Bibi must finally get her freedom and an end to her ordeal. After nine years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit, it is difficult to see this long overdue verdict as justice. But she should now be free to reunite with her family and seek safety in a country of her choice.”

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Christian woman cleared of blasphemy barred from leaving Pakistan

A Christian woman spared the death penalty after her blasphemy conviction was overturned faces being barred from leaving Pakistan under a deal struck to appease hardliners.

Pakistan’s government on Friday night said it had reached an agreement with Islamist parties to end three days of protests which have paralysed the country after Asia Bibi was freed.

The deal included a government concession to begin court proceedings to put Mrs Bibi on the country’s no-fly list.

Pakistan’s government told the BBC it would be up to the court to decide, but the sop to extremists is likely to anger rights groups and Western countries who have been pushing for her freedom.

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Pakistan’s High Court Acquits Asia Bibi, Christian Woman On Death Row For Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy in a case that has roiled the country.

In the courtroom, it took less a minute for the chief justice, Saqib Nisar, to upturn a series of legal rulings that had kept Bibi on death row for eight years.

In terse remarks to the hushed, packed courtroom, he said that Bibi’s conviction and sentence had been voided.

In a 56-page verdict issued after the ruling, the three-judge bench appeared to side with Bibi’s advocates. They have maintained that the case against the 51-year-old illiterate farmhand was built around a grievance by her fellow Muslim workers, who appeared angry that she might drink from the same vessel as them. She was ordered by a local landlord to bring water to the women on a day while they were picking berries.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Christian Post) Pakistan Cracks Down on Charities, World Vision Given 90 Days to Leave

The government in Pakistan has ordered 27 international aid groups, including World Vision, to shut down alleging they were working in unauthorized areas and aiding human rights campaigners. The groups have been given 90 days to leave.

The 27 groups that have been asked to leave by Pakistan’s interior ministry include Action Aid, Plan International, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Danish Refugee Council, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Novib, and Marie Stopes, according to Reuters.

Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Talal Chaudhry, told Reuters the nonprofits were doing work in Pakistan “which is beyond their mandate and for which they have no legal justification.” He added that the groups spent “all their money” on administration and are not doing the work they said they were doing.

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Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General

(Independent) Suicide bombers storm a Pakastani Methodist church and detonate explosives as congregation worships

Two suicide bombers stormed a Christian church in south-western Pakistan, killing at least eight people and wounding up to 42 others before being stopped by police guards.

The gunmen, who were wearing vests filled with explosives, attacked the church in Quetta city when Sunday services had just opened.

Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister for Baluchistan province, said hundreds of worshippers were attending the church ahead of Christmas. He said one attacker was killed at the entrance to the church, while the other set off his payload inside.

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Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Deutsche Welle) ‘WhatsApp blasphemy’ and the plight of Pakistani Christians

On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in eastern Pakistan sentenced Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, to death on blasphemy charges. James, a tailor by profession, was accused by a friend of sharing “blasphemous messages” on WhatsApp’s text messaging service.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan’s Islamic identity.

Pakistan’s Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.

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Posted in Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Dr. Ruth Pfau, a German-born medical missionary who was hailed as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan” dies at age 87

Dr. Pfau, who had converted to Roman Catholicism and become a nun, discovered her calling to help lepers coincidentally.

In 1960, she was waylaid in Pakistan by a passport foul-up en route to a posting in India by her Roman Catholic order, the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary. By chance, she visited a leper colony in Karachi, where she met one of the thousands of Pakistani patients afflicted with the disease.

“He must have been my age — I was at this time not yet 30 — and he crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal,” she told the BBC in 2010, “as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog.”

The encounter stunned her.

“I could not believe that humans could live in such conditions,” she told the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune in 2014. “That one visit, the sights I saw during it, made me make a key life decision.”

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Missions, Pakistan

(AP) Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

Pakistan said Thursday it has asked Facebook and Twitter to help it identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

Read it all. Also, WWM has a look at Pakistan’s blasphemy laws there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture