Christmas in jail for Asia Bibi, as Khawaja Sharif bars govt from amending blasphemy law

Asia Bibi's daughters have learned sadly about the trial's postponement and are preparing to celebrate Christmas without mother.

Related Articles: Nawaz Sharif’s sectarian poodle in Lahore High Court stays Aasia bibi’s release

LHC overstepped in barring Zardari from pardoning blasphemy-accused Christian: HRW

Chief Justice Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court barred the government from introducing any change in the blasphemy law in response to a petition filed by a man named Muhammad Nasir.

Khawaj Sharif issued a notice asking the government to clarify its position on the issue at the next hearing scheduled for December 23.

In his petition, Nasir asked the court to stop the federal government from making any change in the law.

The Chief Justice said the government should not take any step till the court gives its verdict on the petition.

This statement is an obvious interference by the judiciary on the prerogative of Parliament and the Government, who hold legislative and executive power: lawyers, politicians, and representatives from civil society have commented on the High Court’s.

The Lahore High Court’s order to bar President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Aasia Bibi, contravenes Pakistan’s constitution and should be withdrawn immediately, an international human rights organisation Watch already has said.
Legal experts are calling it “unacceptable, just a sign of confusion of conflict of powers. The Court can not in any way affect the role of Parliament or the Government.”

According to the various international organizations now it’s evident clear that the case of Asia Bibi is being politicised, and, on one hand, there are attempts to insert it into political or tactical disputes, and on the other is a gross act of exploitation  radical Islamic groups.

In fact, yesterday in Islamabad, the radical activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) protested before Parliament, asking the Government to deal with the “real problems of the country”, citing inflation and “the submissive rapport with the United States”, and asking to give up the revision of the blasphemy law.

Meanwhile the work of the Commission appointed by President Zardari to revise the law is about to begin and, as authoritative sources in the Pakistani government reveal to Fides, “the Commission expects to deliver an outcome and a proposal for revision within three months.”

A prominent law maker of Pakistan People’s Party Sherry Rehman has introduced a private bill in parliament to change the law.

Asia Bibi’s family has learned sadly about the trial’s postponement and is preparing to celebrate Christmas without Asia.

“It will be a Christmas in which all the Christians of Pakistan remember and pray for Asia and her family. While the politicians plays their games, there is an innocent victim who suffers in prison and children without a mother,”

Haroon Barket Masih told Fides, head of the Masihi Foundation,” which is taking care of the family and providing legal assistance, noting that “the appeal process is expected to last about a year.”

According to official data released today by the press in Pakistan, there are 130 people in prison for blasphemy in different jails in Punjab. Of these, 64 were convicted, while 52 are on trial. Of those convicted, 12 (including Asia Bibi) are sentenced to death while others are serving life imprisonment or other penalties. Only eight of them are Christians, the remaining 122 are Muslims. Of the eight Christians, two are women (Asia Bibi and Riqqiya Bibi, wife of Munir Masih.

Earlier Asma Jahangir, human rights activist and chairperson of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), criticised the courts restraining order.

“The president is yet to grant pardon. So there was no need for such an order,” she said, adding that “the court should not take such populist stance”.

Ms Asma said the court shouldn’t have passed an order over a possible future event.

“A stay order in anticipation of something is unheard of,” Jahangir said. “This was done by the high court to gain popularity.”

A spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari responded to the statement of the Lahore High Court, claiming the prerogative and powers of the President. President Zardari through his spokesman said that the High Court has no jurisdiction over his duties and, under Article 45 of the Constitution, the President may at any time decide to grant a pardon. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, with a statement of “its motion” (ie, of their own initiative) has confirmed this interpretation, noting that only the Supreme Court may give binding instructions to the Government or the President.


The Constitution says as follows:

45. President’s power to grant pardon, etc.

The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.

248. Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc.

(1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not he answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:

Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.

55-A. Saving for President prerogative:

Nothing in Section fifty-four or Section fifty-five shall derogate from the right of the President to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment:

Provided that such right shall not without the consent of the victim or, as the case may be. of the heirs of the victim, be exercised for any sentence awarded under Chapter XVI.

67. Rules of Procedure, etc.
(1) Subject to the Constitution, a House may make [67] rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business, and shall have power to act notwithstanding any vacancy in the membership thereof, and any proceedings in the House shall not be invalid on the ground that some persons who were not entitled to do so sat, voted or otherwise took part in the proceedings.
(2) Until rules are made under clause (1), the procedure and conduct of business in a House shall be regulated by the rules of procedure made by the President.

68. Restriction on discussion in Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

No discussion shall take place in [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.

69. Courts not to inquire into proceedings of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

(1) The validity of any proceedings in [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] shall not be called in question on the ground of any irregularity of procedure.
(2) No officer or member of [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] in whom powers are vested by or under the Constitution for regulating procedure or the conduct of business, or for maintaining order in [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)], shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers.

(3) In this Article, [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] has the same meaning as in Article 66.



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