News Analysis |
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar has made interesting comments about the case of Asia Bibi. The top judge has said that the case of Asia Bibi showed how the justice system failed to deliver on merit, depriving people of their due right to justice and fairness. The CJP has been on a private visit to Britain for Dams fund-raising, GVS reported earlier.
The CJP made these remarks during his meetings with a group of British Pakistani parliamentarians who had invited him for a tour of the British parliament. The event, arranged in the committee room of the House of Commons, was attended by Afzal Khan MP, Naz Shah MP, Rehman Chishti MP, Faisal Rasheed MP, Yasmeen Qureshi MP, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Muhammad Yaseen MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, and Lord Qurban Hussain.
The comments by justice Nisar clearly indicate that the judiciary in Pakistan has decided not to surrender before the religious extremism.
When asked about the Justice System of Pakistan, the CJP maintained that Pakistan’s justice system is fractured and it needs reforms so that it could be made relevant to the modern world for the dispensation of speedy and quality justice to citizens of Pakistan.
The top judge was also asked by the British Lawmakers regarding the provision of safety to Asia Bibi. “As far as the protection is concerned, I don’t think she should be given asylum … because it’s the duty of the state to protect the life and property of its citizens and if she is sent abroad it means that the state of Pakistan has failed. She should be given maximum protection in Pakistan,” Justice Nisar said.
Read more: Fact-check: Did Aasia Bibi meet the Pope?
Media reports suggest that in June 2009, Aasia was involved in an argument with a group of women in a rural area of Punjab. Subsequently, she was accused of blasphemy (she allegedly insulted Islam and used derogatory words against the scared personalities). In 2010, a lower court after listening to the arguments from both sides and looking into the available evidence awarded her the capital punishment.
In 2014, the Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld her death sentence despite criticism from some segments of civil society and international media. However, the apex court had issued a stay order on her execution in July 2015. The stay order was issued by the top court since the case had become controversial and complex which demanded more deliberation to be concluded.
The CJP made these remarks during his meetings with a group of British Pakistani parliamentarians who had invited him for a tour of the British parliament.
On October 31, the SC acquitted her and reversed the orders of the lower courts. After the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Ms. Asia Bibi supporters of the TLP took to the street and main roads in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi and sealed off the cities. The leaders of the TLP and other religious parties reportedly demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Khan, Judges who were part of a three-member bench, and suspension of the verdict of the top court.
However, after three days of continuous protests and hate speeches, the government was able to get an agreement signed with the protesters by urging them to use legal platform instead of violence. Moreover, Justice Nisar was also asked a question about the issue around Asia Bibi being on the Exit Control List (ECL), the CJP said that the law doesn’t provide for any such provision in a case like this. He said he was sure that the judiciary would not pass any illegal order.
The comments by justice Nisar clearly indicate that the judiciary in Pakistan has decided not to surrender before the religious extremism. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, most senior judge of the SC, is known for his bold and strong judgements. He was the person who headed a bench which maintained the death penalty of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer.
Justice Khosa was also a part of the bench hearing Asia Bibi case and he made it clear that there was no evidence against the accused and there was no law which allowed punishing a person without any evidence. The CJP also suggested that the government of Pakistan had to act strong or there would be no end (of such cases) and this would show the failure of the state. “Safeguarding Asia Bibi is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan,” CJP said.