Pakistan’s Supreme Court Upholds Their Decision To Free Asia Bibi
This is a very welcome and courageous judgement from the Supreme Court. Inevitably, it will test the Pakistan Government’s resolve in dealing with the intimidation and threats posed by Tehrik-e-Labbaik, who have threatened mass public protests. But mob rule must never be allowed to overpower the rule of law – and in ensuring due process Pakistan’s highest legal authorities deserve our greatest possible respect.
I feel huge admiration for the Supreme Court justices who, by taking this decision, have been willing to put the rule of law above every other consideration.
We cannot forget that Asia Bibi’s case is one of many, and that, by some estimates, more than 70 people are currently on death-row for alleged blasphemy crimes.
Pakistan’s remarkable founder, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, passionately believed that minorities should have a place of dignity and respect in Pakistan. It’s a principle even woven into the country’s flag. How countries treat their minorities is a crucial litmus test and Pakistan simply needs to look at its own foundation principles to see that they are failing the Jinnah-test, as minorities face discrimination and persecution.
Asia Bibi has endured hell. Imprisoned on a trumped up charge, she has spent nine years in prison, facing execution. Her two daughters have had a short childhood – one largely without their mother. Yes, this is a significant day, but we must not forget that this long overdue outcome has been paid for in blood. Two great Pakistanis – Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer – Christian and Muslim – were murdered for their advocacy on this case.
Asia Bibi has spent nine years in prison, facing execution. She now needs to be reunited with her family and given time and space to rebuild her life.
Oral Question January 30th 2019
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, the World Bank estimates that some 800 million people are racked by starvation, despair or living below any rational definition of human decency. The Minister is right to remind us that, as long ago as 1970, in Resolution 2626, the United Nations urged us to find this 0.7% figure. Does he agree that people expect their money to be spent well? I draw his attention to a Question that I asked him on the Order Paper today concerning discrimination and persecution in countries such as Pakistan, which is the biggest recipient of British aid—£383,000 each and every single day. Will he ensure that where British money is being spent, it will tackle the plight of minorities, particularly by preventing people from religious minorities from being subjected to discrimination, persecution and even genocide?
I am delighted to give that reassurance. This Government have been at the fore on this issue. The Prime Minister has made announcements on it and has appointed her first Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, my noble friend Lord Ahmad. We are proud of that, and we have to uphold, keep to and maintain those standards.
Lord Alton of Liverpool asked:
Question Tabled Monday 28th January 2019
What assessment they have made of the case of Pervais Masih, accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, the treatment of his family and the death of his daughter; and whether they have discussed this case with the government of Pakistan.
Whether they have discussed the case of Qaisar and Amoon Ayub with (1) the government of Thailand, and (2) the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; if so, when any such discussions took place; and if not, why not.
Question Tabled Tuesday 29th January 2019
What discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about employment discrimination, with particular regard to advertisements published by that government which reserve low level jobs, such as street sweeping, for religious minorities; whether UK aid supports employment opportunities in the public sector closed to religious minorities; and whether they support programmes which help illiterate members of religious minorities in that country to improve their employment prospects.
Written Questions On the Order Paper January 31st 2019
What assessment they have made, if any, of the comments of Hafiz Entisha Ahmed published in the Guardian on 30 January that Asia Bibi “deserves to be murdered”; and, following the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to uphold her acquittal following nine years’ incarceration on death row, why she has not immediately been offered asylum in the UK.
why their review into the persecution of Christians does not include within its scope the effect of DfID and Home Office policies on aid and asylum.
when the full terms of reference for their review into the persecution of Christians will be published.
when it is expected that their review into the persecution of Christians will publish its findings and recommendations.