Asia Bibi’s husband has called for protection for his wife and family, after Pakistan gave in to the demands of extremists to prevent her leaving the country.
The government has conceded to protesters’ demands to keep Asia in Pakistan, even though the Supreme Court has thrown out the blasphemy charges against her.
Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, strongly criticised the government’s decision to give in to the protesters’ demands.
He told Deutsche Welle that the decision ‘has sent a shiver down my spine. My family is frightened, my relatives are frightened and my friends are also frightened. This agreement should never have been struck.
‘The three [Supreme Court] judges delivered the verdict after taking into account all aspects of the case. [The] government should not have come to such an agreement.
‘My wife, Asia Bibi, has already suffered greatly,’ he continued. ‘She has spent ten years in jail. The verdict of the Supreme Court had created a ray of hope; we were excited that we would meet her soon. My daughters were dying to see her free, but now this review petition will prolong her plight. She will have to stay in jail until the review petition is decided.’
Ashiq praised the Supreme Court Judges as ‘very courageous,’ but feared Islamists would try to pressurise them to change their verdict.
‘The clerics might gather outside the Supreme Court and try to influence the verdict,’ he said. ‘It is wrong to set a precedent in which you pile pressure onto the judiciary.
Ashiq described a growing sense of threat and danger that he felt, along with his family: ‘The current situation is very dangerous for us. We have no security and are hiding here and there, frequently changing our location.
‘I trust in God’
He told Deutsche Welle: ‘I think that the clerics will encircle the Supreme Court on the day of hearing. I will really feel very afraid of going on that day. But I think God has been protecting us and he will also continue to protect us. I place all my trust in God.’
Recalling that others acquitted for blasphemy had nevertheless been gunned down by extremists, he called on the government to step up protection for Asia:
‘The situation is dangerous for Asia. Her life is not secure. We must remember that two Christian men in Faisalabad were gunned down years ago after a court set them free. They were also accused of blasphemy. So, I appeal to [the] government to enhance Asia’s security in jail.’
Meanwhile, Asia’s lawyer, Saif ul-Mulook, has been forced to flee the country, saying he needs to remain alive to fight for justice for Asia Bibi.
He too, has called for protection. He told the Express Tribune: ‘My family is also facing immense security threats and the federal government should provide security to them.’
Please pray for their security and the safety of the Christian minority in Pakistan. Many are often exposed in rural villages and have been warned they could face reprisals.
Sources: Deutsche Welle, First Post