Salman Taseer, right, Governor of Punjab, talks to reporters after meeting with Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, left, at a prison in Sheikhupura, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has asked for a report on the case and is reported as being concerned on the issues, according to Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs, while Asia Bibi appeared in a televised interview from her prison Saturday, tearfully denying the blasphemy charges on which she was convicted to death on Nov. 8, 2010, after some 18 months in prison.
Salman Taseer, right, Governor of Punjab, talks to reporters after meeting with Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, left, at a prison in Sheikhupura, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.
Ashiq Masih, husband Asia Bibi, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. Masih says that his wife Bibi is not guilty of the charge and that the accusation came from a dispute in June 2009 involving Muslim women who refused to drink from the same water bowl as Bibi.
Ashiq Masih, center, husband of a Christian woman Asia Bibi, sits next to daughters Sidra, left, and Isham, right, as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.
Asia Bibi listens to Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, at a prison in Sheikhupura, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.
Governor says Aasia did not commit blasphemy, "I will soon meet President Asif Ali Zardari and hand him over Bibi's appeal," he said. "I hope that the president will pardon her."
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said he would take up Aasia Bibi’s case with President Asif Ali Zardari, who has the constitutional power to pardon her.
“Inshallah her appeal will be accepted,” Taseer said, adding that he had studied Aasia’s case and found that she had not committed any blasphemy.
The governor was addressing reporters in a meeting along with Aasia at the Sheikhupura District Jail on Saturday. His wife Aamna Taseer and daughter Shehrbano were also present on the occasion. Asia Bibi was sentenced to hang in Punjab earlier this month after being accused of blasphemy in 2009.
In response to a question, he said that he wanted to release Aasia from her sentence out of sheer humanity. “She is a helpless Christian woman. She can’t legally defend herself because she does not have resources. Implicating helpless minorities in such cases amounts to ridiculing the constitution of Pakistan,” he added.
The contents of the appeal were not immediately known, but Taseer said he was supporting it on humanitarian grounds.
“The citizens of Pakistan have full freedom, regardless of the caste they belong to. No one can be victimised in this country in the name of religion. In this country, minorities will not be humiliated as it is against the vision of Pakistan,” the governor added. Regarding the mercy petition, Taseer said that it was the court’s decision and he did not want to interfere in it, but the president had the right to forgive the sentence of anyone. He added that he wanted to see Pakistan as a prosperous and developed country.
On Friday, President Zardari asked the Minorities Affairs Ministry to compile a report on Aasia’s case within three days after the media suggested the accusations stemmed from a village dispute.(Source: Daily Times)
A police official takes the thumb impression of Asia Bib. "She is a helpless Christian woman. She can’t legally defend herself because she does not have resources. Implicating such helpless minorities in such cases amounts to ridiculing the constitution of Pakistan,” Salman Taseer said.
Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer told media that Asia Bibi’s death penalty sentence is “a disgraceful episode. It is an embarrassment for Pakistan.”
“I want to send a strong message that we are here for the protection of minorities,We don’t want them to be targeted by these kind of laws. But we are in a coalition government and we have to get everyone on board to make any changes.” Taseer told Media.
“These laws are used to victimise Christians and other groups. They are a foul leftover from the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq,” Taseer explained.
In a brief news conference at the prison where she’s being held, Asia sat next to Governor SalmanTaseer and said the allegations against her were lies, fabricated by a group of women who didn’t like her.
“We had some differences and this was their way of taking revenge, The allegation against me is baseless.” Asia Bibi said.
Governor Salman Taseer’s wife Amina Taseer and daughter Shahar Bano listening Asia Bibi's sad story and expressing concern and sympathy to her.
That Development raised hope among her family members, who say they have only seen her five times since her arrest.
“I want my mother to be released in time for Christmas, so we can celebrate together,” Sidra, Asia Bibi’s daughter said.
The case against Asia Bibi — which started with a spat over a sip of water — has renewed calls for reform of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which critics say have been used to settle grudges, persecute minorities and fan religious extremism- and now Anti-blasphemy motion scheduled for upcoming Parliament session
A member of Parliament, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Ms Sherry Rehman, has told media that the next session of the National Assembly will present “a motion for the review of the anti-blasphemy law.” It will be another intent – after those that have failed in the past – taking advantage of the awareness that has spread in public opinion, on both a national and international level, through the story of Asia Bibi.
The motion will aim to set in motion the Subcommittee on Blasphemy, which exists within the Parliamentary Committee for Religious Minorities, but, Rehman notes, it aims to “involve all Parliament, to make it give the Commission a clear mandate for a proposed revision.”
The PML-N has maintained a studied silence and conspicuous absence on this very important issue, observers wondered where the PML-N leadership? the ruler of Punjab, minorities of Pakistan suspect that PML(N) is deliberately keeping silent because of it’s right wing vote bank-and they know serious and deep relation ship between the PML-N and extremist organizations, it is an open secret that it has won elections in Punjab with the support of extremists organizations. The Pakistani minorities are totally disappointed with PML-N, due to it’s anti-minorities attitude. Various reports say that “in Punjab, since the Muslim League Nawaz has been in power, violence and persecution against Christians has increased significantly.” All moderate political forces criticized the PML-N after senior party leader and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah met and traveled with leaders of the banned militant group while campaigning for by-polls in Jhang district.
In the past, many PML-N leaders have had contacts with banned militant outlets and had taken the help of their cadres during election campaigns. Members of the provincial government, which is controlled by the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, have resisted — a clear move against these banned militant organizations, analysts and observers say is driven by its reliance on banned militant groups to deliver key votes during elections. Fauzia Wahab insinuated that the PML-N won elections with support from extremists. Ms. Wahab said: “There has always been a nexus between the PML-N and religious elements across the country. The PML-N succeeded in the 2008 elections due to their support.” “I think the PML-N has always had connections to religious fundamentalists, whether they are the Jamaat-i-Islami or the Anjuman Sipah-i-Sahaba or the Lashkar-e-Taiba.” Mian Shahbaz Sharif chief minister Punjab and president Pakistan Muslim League -N also requested the Taliban to spare Punjab from their terrorist activities considering the commonalities between the Taliban and his party i.e same ideology and background etc.
Waqar Gillani writes in his article ” Extreme politics” as follows: “The PML-N wants to keep its sway over Punjab intact by coddling extremist elements. The little political support they had in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was lost in Hazara on the issue of renaming the province,” says Rizvi. “That is why they woo clerics as their ally to grab votes. These militant and extremist groups are strong in Punjab. It is a very dangerous trend, but unfortunately civil society also supports such elements in the Punjab.”