Choices to make in women’s treatment: Asia Bibi or Nida Rashid? – by Naveed Ali

Nida Rashid's brilliant all round performance helped Pakistan win the first cricket gold medal ever awarded at the Asian Games.

Two headlines in daily Dawn’s website yesterday, two news, two events, one brings hope while other despair.

One is about the Amnesty International asking for release of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death on blasphemy charges (Amnesty urges release of Pakistani Christian woman, 2010). Other is about the victory of Pakistan women cricket team in Asian games (Pakistan women beat Bangladesh; win first Asiad gold, 2010).

One can wonder how the pundits, our scholars and analysts will treat these news? They are about human development, human rights, minorities, and less privileged elements in society. But they are contrasting and show the dilemma of today’s Pakistan, a fight between progressive and conservative forces.

There are those who want to take advantage of laws created on religious basis to target those elements in society which are weak, vulnerable and cannot protect themselves against aggressive allegations and become easy target.

Asia Bibi is a victim of an evil law and an intolerant mullah dominated society

Asia Bibi was forced not to fetch water as she was a non-Muslim, that is where it all started, then reportedly she was asked to convert to Islam and during the debate she emphasized on what she believes in. Ironically the report was filed after few days of the what happened between the women, one of them was wife of the Imam of local mosque and it is the Imam who has filed the case against her.

One can wonder why the court did not consider the motives behind the allegations, what the lawyers were doing, how the case was defended? We should ask why the judge ruled out any possibility that Asia was falsely implicated (Amnesty Int’l urges release of Pakistani Christian woman, 2010), was she provoked? What were the circumstances she was forced into? How many were the aggressive women abusing her at the time of incident? Why she was deprived of water? What will be the response of a enraged, helpless, angry person against a group insulting him or her and forcing to accept something against will? How would be an average person feeling and reacting in such situation? Does honourable judge considered the circumstances while reaching decision?

Now the world is aware of what is happening and it is coming together to rescue Asia, Pope has called Pakistan government to release her and pressure will increase. Surely Asia should not face the sentence, and hopefully she will be spared as the appeal will be heard in higher courts and she might will be released as well. What will happen afterwards? Probably her family will apply for asylum as they have become target of hard-liners and they will leave country. Hopefully this is where it should end, and Asia will live happily with her husband, two sons and three daughters. This is what we Pakistanis should demand from the state.

Now referring to the victory of Pakistan’s women cricket team in Asian Games; surely an event of jubilation for the nation, specially as their counterparts are not doing well and continuously in crisis with corruption and fixing charges on team members and an inefficient management. Women team has done great and brought us jubilation. They have again shown that women can keep honour of the nation and contribute to their best as much as any Pakistani man can.

Well surely any hard-liner mullah will not be happy on this news, for instance what will be the reaction of the cleric who filed case against Asia? Shall we have any difficulty understanding it? No, clearly he will shout that women are not allowed to go outside of home, for him that photo of Nida Rashid celebrating her team’s victory (Pakistan women beat Bangladesh; win first Asiad gold, 2010) will be sinful. He will overlook what benefits these players have brought for their country, these players have presented their country in Asian games, won a gold medal, and ensure Pakistan’s name will be there as champions in history of the games, they have given their nation a chance to celebrate, a reason to delight, gratification to their fellow Pakistani women and a message to us all that they are the best.

Women are as good a resource as men, and they should be given equal chances in every walk of life.What we learn today is that we have choices to make. One is the way forward, open up your mind, embrace the change, develop and utilise your resources and carry on, while other is to move backward, resist change, keep on indulging into petty issues, preach hatred, promote irrational beliefs so that status quo cannot be changed.

Pakistanis have to decide which way they want to go, still not late but every passing day without being decisive will make it hard to move forward.

Amnesty urges release of Pakistani Christian woman, 2010,, last viewed 19/11/2010

Pakistan women beat Bangladesh; win first Asiad gold, 2010,, last viewed 19/11/2010



Latest Comments
  2. Naveed
  3. Junaid Qaiser
  4. Junaid Qaiser
  5. Kashif Naseer
  6. Amos
  7. Sofía Ida Candela