Maleeha Hashmey |
Man is the crown of all creations. At his best, man is the noblest of all animals, separated from law and justice – he is the worst. As 2019 knocked our doors, we saw almost everyone around us, sharing their #10YearChallenge – most of them had interesting tales of growth and development while others who couldn’t find anything worthwhile marked themselves “safe” from #10YearChallenge drive on their Facebook timelines. Grapes are sour, eh?!
Yesterday, as I stepped in Courtroom # 1 of Supreme Court of Pakistan, I was thrilled and slightly sceptical of what lied ahead for us to witness in the next two hours. I was wondering if the newly sworn-in Chief Justice of Pakistan – Asif Saeed Khosa, was going to be intimidated and buckle under the tremendous amount of pressure pouring in from the extremist groups – who had been twisting and tailoring Islam’s image to their advantage, exhibiting mass protests, flaunting their power to the state or would there be a “tabdeeli” for a change!
Man is the crown of all creations. At his best, man is the noblest of all animals, separated from law and justice – he is the worst.
In no time, the courtroom got flooded with lawyers, reporters, petitioner’s team, media analysts and a few others. January 29, 2019, was the day when Aasiya Bibi’s fate was going to be decided. It was a make or break situation for sanity and rule of law in the country.
• Aasiya – the Christian woman who got accused of committing blasphemy in June 2009
• Later convicted and sentenced to death on November 8, 2010
• She appealed the conviction on October 16, 2014 but Lahore High Court “upheld” her conviction.
• Her appeal got filed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, on November 24, 2014
• The apex court suspended the death sentence for the duration of the appeal on July 22, 2015
• Supreme Court of Pakistan reserved its verdict on the case on October 8, 2018
• Aasia’s conviction and death sentence got OVERTURNED on October 31, 2018 – which lead to massive protests by extremist factions, with the majority of the Protestants being completely oblivious of what the case was all about and what the factual details had to say!
January 29, 2019 was either going to STRENGTHEN Islam in its true spirit or further ruin whatever was left of it, handing the authority to further “misinterpret” and “manipulate” it to the point of no return, as the review petition filed by the complainant, Qari Salam, pleading the apex court to maintain the death sentence awarded to Aasiya Bibi by trial court, was either going to overturn the prior judgment or get dismissed.
As the proceedings began, we saw the tension and anxiety in the audience turning into chuckles and mischievous mutterings, within the first fifteen minutes, as the petitioner’s lawyer had nothing much to present in the support of their appeal except for lectures on how “intolerant” Islam is towards non-Muslim.
In no time, the courtroom got flooded with lawyers, reporters, petitioner’s team, media analysts and a few others.
Initially CJP – Asif Saeed Khosa, granted him all the time and opportunity to come up with the faults he had apparently found with the verdict but as he found them hell-bent on playing with words and creating a religiously motivated narrative, attempting at igniting religious sentiments just for the sake of it, WITHOUT any substantially concrete fact-based objection, he STOPPED him right there and ordered him to keep it short, precise, relevant and to the point, as per the standard requirement of the review appeal.
There were 25 contradictions in the witnesses’ statements too – some of which were narrated by the honourable Chief Justice – Khosa. The prosecution, apparently, had different points of view on almost every little thing, starting from WHERE the incident took place, to WHERE the FIR got lodged, to the fact that “Qari Salaam”, who got the FIR lodged NEVER saw Aasiya Bibi exchanging blasphemous words, to WHERE the “jirga” (local proceedings of the community) was held, as there were four different statements made by four witnesses, to the number of people present in the jirga, to WHY it took them five long days to get the FIR registered, to the mystery revolving around the idea as to “who” informed Qari sb about the incident, as there were two opinions on that too.
Despite having full liberty to explain their reservations about the verdict, the petitioner’s lawyer “miserably” failed to justify 25 CONTRADICTIONS in the witnesses’ statements and there I was sitting in remorse, having a flashback of the past TEN years – that took away Taseer family’s beloved dad, legitimizing the killing of a progressive and innocent human, in their self-created version of Islam, a precious DECADE of Aasiya Bibi’s life, that she had every right to spend with her children, Aasiya’s children – who couldn’t hug their mother all these years, only to learn after 10 YEARS that it was all designed to feed the ego of the two women, Asma and Mafia, apparently, who happened to be the complainant – Qari Salam’s wife’s Quran students.
During the proceedings, CJP emphasized the fact that the real beauty of Muslim society is to protect its non-Muslim community. Blatantly lying after swearing upon Allah and His Holy Book is anything but the teachings of Islam.
As the petitioner’s lawyer had nothing much to present in the support of their appeal except for lectures on how “intolerant” Islam is towards non-Muslim.
Not only did the three-judge panel DISMISS the appeal but also every little attempt made by the prosecutor to play the “religion card”, while being completely aware of the fact that reality was the other way around. The arguments made by the lawyer on behalf of the petitioners, for 105 long minutes, were too weak and illogical to satisfy the bench.
I must say, Aasiya Bibi’s #10YearChallenge – that’s nothing short of a horrific nightmare.
Though it did take its time but the right thing has finally been done. This hopefully sets a precedent for the future for such cases. Let’s hope that punitive measures are introduced for anyone making an allegation of this nature that they can’t prove, as rightly pointed out by CJP, “Keeping in view the sensitivity of this case, we have not sentenced the witnesses for life sentence, which we very much can, after a quick summary trial, as per the law, to set an example for the society to learn as to what is done to the witnesses with FALSE testimonies”.
He further remarked, “If we honestly fulfil our obligation of bringing justice to people and save the ones against whom false accusations are made, we are termed as “Wajib-ul-qatl” – but that is not going to keep us from performing our job. We have to ponder over the fact as to WHAT sort of Islam’s image is we trying to portray to the whole world”.
Blatantly lying after swearing upon Allah and His Holy Book is anything but the teachings of Islam.
As the court proceedings came to closure, CJP beautifully summed it up as follows;
“Islam says that the person testifying should be truthful, even if speaking the truth means implicating your loved ones. Justice for all. We are dismissing the case on merit” !!
The poor woman who UNJUSTLY spent a DECADE in captivity will finally be able to breathe in fresh air. Had she been there in the courtroom yesterday, she would have been glad to hear the man heading the Supreme judicial authority, share his take on her #10YearChallenge – owning the “white” in the white and green flag, disowning those who tortured her, granting her just the right kind of security and protection, setting her free – something that should have been done right in the beginning, but as they say, “All is well that ends well”.
We can not bring back those precious years of her life but we can promise to ensure that no other Aasiya suffers in Pakistan ever again. This is something that our Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is going to ask us about on the day of judgment and rightly so, as this is anything but the teachings of Islam. May Allah guide us all to the right path.
Last I may forget to share, as we headed out, I got hold of “Qari sb” – the mother of all evils in this particular case. I thanked him whole-heartedly for being naive enough to not remember the required details of the “made up” story that he failed to submit with the courts and hence, it all bit the dust.
And that’s a wrap. Here’s to a progressive future with the hope of better sense to prevail. Pakistan Zindabad!
Maleeha Hashmey is a corporate trainer, motivational speaker, socio-political enthusiast and human resource development consultant by profession. She has been working with the telecommunication sector as a corporate trainer. She has been working with the Ministry of Education, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as a Human Resource Development Consultant & Teacher Trainer. Her dream is to make Pakistan a stronger economic state that the whole world views as a force to reckon with. She can be followed on Twitter via her Twitter handle @MaleehaHashmey. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.