AHCR campaigns to prosecute Maulana Yousaf Qureshi

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Related News Stories:

“No one will let her live. The mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out.”

And Chief Justice Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court barred the government from introducing any change in the blasphemy law.

The Asian Human rights commission documents and launches campaign concerning threats to Asia Bibi’s life and also demands prosecution of Maluna Yousaf Quresh. The AHCR in it’s urgent appeal program demanded that extremist clerics who issued decree to kill a Christian woman should be prosecuted.

The AHCR also suggested that we[citizens] should write the letters, phone calls, fax and e-mails to the authorities urging them to pardon Asia and release her immediately. And ask them to arrest those extremist religious leaders who are instigating the people to kill her and have announced rewards for killing her. And also urge that the children and family members of her be provided protection and employment.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Religious tolerance calling for his intervention into this case.

On Dec. 3 the imam of Peshawar’s oldest mosque, Maluna Yousaf Qureshi, offered a 500,000 rupee (about $5,800) reward to anyone who killed the Asia Bibi if the court failed to execute her.

His comments drew criticism from Latif Afridi, a renowned lawyer and former president of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association. He said the imam’s statement was “a mad person’s words and are contrary to basic human rights.” According to the Pakistan Express Tribune, The lawyer also charged that the remarks constituted an open threat to someone’s life and merited legal action.

However, Nawa-i-Waqt, Pakistan’s leading Urdu newspaper, also endorsed the call for Bibi’s death. It said her punishment “will be carried out in one manner or the other.”

Extremists cleric’s public incitement to murder sparked some criticism in Pakistani media, but no sign of any law enforcement action or investigation. Article 506 of the Pakistan penal code outlaws “criminal intimidation,” and in cases where death is threatened the standard applicable two-year prison term rises to seven.

On the one hand Mullahs are hell bent on seeing Asia Bibi dead, as you will see in the links to a TV discussion, and on the contrary Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Peoples Party’s lawmaker and President of Jinnah Institute, heroically and rightly said,

“allowing any open incitement to murder in the name of protecting religion must stop right now. The state must retain its monopoly on the use of force, and penalties under the law, no one else. Letting Qureshi flout the justice system is also tantamount to challenging the jurisdiction of the courts, and due notice must immediately taken to penalize such actions.”

PAKISTANI MULLAHS WANT ASIA BIBI TO BE KILLED

Ali Dayan Hasan, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch and Member of the Board of Advisors at the Jinnah Institute said, “This is brazen incitement to violence and murder. The full force of the law should apply and Qureshi should be held accountable.”

The Jinnah Institute Caucus on Blasphemy Laws condemned Qureshi’s incitement to murder and calls for an end to vigilante justice. The Lahore High Court should conduct Aasia Bibi’s appeal with regard to due process in order to give her fair trial. The JI caucus also called for amendments to the Blasphemy Laws in accordance with the Amendments to the Blasphemy Laws Bill 2010 presented in the National Assembly.

Here is a complete appeal:

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

PAKISTAN: Muslim leaders who issued decree to kill a Christian woman should be prosecuted

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-177-2010

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission received information that Muslim fundamentalist and extremist groups have advocated publicly that a Christian lady, Aasia Bibi, sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws should not be pardoned even though her pardon was awarded by a session court on the instigation of Muslim religious leadership. Some have offered a cash reward for Aasia’s assassination. Since the introduction of 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by a military dictator in 1986, dozens of persons from religious minority groups have been killed or lynched by mobs. Pakistan’s courts have also proved themselves biased on blasphemy law.

Throughout Pakistan, wall chalking and graffiti declare support for killing Aasia, call for death to Aasia, and declare support for blasphemy law. A high profile campaign has also started in the private media channels against reforming the blasphemy law, and participants use filthy words against those persons who are advocating amendment of section 295-C of the PPC.

Please sign the appeal urging the authorities to pardon Aasia and abolish the amendments in blasphemy law. The religious minorities should be given full protection from the misuse of blasphemy law.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian and mother of five, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district, Punjab province, on charges of committing blasphemy. Ms Bibi’s case dates back to June 2009, when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields and a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl. This resulted in exchange of hot words between her and Muslim women against each others’ religious beliefs. Five days after the incident, a local Muslim leader, Qari Salim, jumped into the matter and pressured some people in the area to claim that she committed blasphemy.

When finding no way to get Ms. Bibi to confess, Salim used the loudspeakers of the mosque, as other Muslim leaders usually do in the cases of alleged blasphemy acts, to spread the news of blasphemy and instigate the people of the locality to punish the alleged blasphemer. The people of the locality beat her severely in the presence of her children. The local police came and took her into protective custody, but at the police station the crowd under the leadership of Qari Salim pressured the police to file a charge of blasphemy against her and arrest her for desecrating the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

On November 1, 2010, 16 months after her arrest, the court pronounced a death sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The judge totally ruled out in his judgment any chance that Aasia was falsely implicated; he said that there were no mitigating circumstances. His comment in his verdict shows that he knew that it was a weak case and that people will oppose his judgment giving a death sentence to a woman in a blasphemy case for the first time in the history of Pakistan. According to the reports, the court relied on the witnesses provided by the Muslim leader of the mosque and Christians were not allowed to produce witnesses. The judge also did not know that according to the 2004 amendment to blasphemy law the investigation of any blasphemy charges should be conducted by an officer who is at least a Superintendent of Police (SP). In the case of Aasia, all the investigation was done by a low rank officer, the Assistant Sub-Inspector.

It has been found that Pakistan’s judges, from the lower courts to the highest courts, are eager to get popularity through their verdicts and comments during the hearing. When the chief justice of the Lahore High Court stopped the government from withdrawing the case of blasphemy against Aasia on the assumption that president of Pakistan would withdraw the case, Ms. Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association told the judges that if they want to get popularity through their judgment then they should do some other job rather than being a judge. The judiciary’s attitude towards the blasphemy law is no different than that of ordinary Muslim leaders. When the Chief Justice implored the government not to pardon the sentence, another bench of the same court also asked the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

It is also evident that those persons responsible for extra-judicial killings of persons accused of blasphemy will never be punished by the courts because of the biases of the courts and because of the lengthy period of trial during which witnesses were pressured by the militant groups.

A prominent Muslim leader, Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a hard line Pakistani Islamic cleric, told a rally in the north-western town of Peshawar that his mosque would give Rs. 0.5 million ($6,000 US dollars) to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. The Maulana is the leader of Mosque Mahabat Khan, the biggest in the Khyber Pakhtoon Kha province. His announcement was carried by all electronic and print media, yet the government has not taken any legal action against Maulana for inciting people to kill extra judicially. Muslim religious groups all over the Pakistan are holding protest meetings in large numbers, instructing followers that there should be no compromise if the government or courts pardon Aasia’s death sentence.

The governor of Punjab, who met Aasia in jail after her sentence and assured her that he would take her case before the president of Pakistan, advocating to pardon her. However, the Lahore high court suddenly stopped the process and said before the decision of the court that the government cannot do such a thing. All the religious groups and parties maligned the governor as he is violating the basic teachings of Islam or he is an infidel.

Ms. Bibi’s husband and children are hiding. They left the house after receiving threats from the Muslim extremists. It is difficult for them to survive, as the husband and his other brothers are always chased by Muslim groups. There is a strong chance that her family would be attacked and might be killed as these happened in previous cases when persons were accused of blasphemy. In a recent case of two Christian brothers, the AHRC informed the authorities of the threat well before those brothers were killed in custody. Please see the urgent appeal in the case of Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid.

In another case dating from July 2009, a Christian youth was killed by extremists in November 2010 after being released from charges of blasphemy. Please go to his case by clicking here.

One daily newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt has written an editorial in favour of Maulana Yousuf Querashi, who issued a decree against Aasia Bibi and announced a cash reward for whomever kills Aasia Bibi. The newspaper wrote that Maulana was great in his decree and his action is according to Islam therefore Aasia Bibi should be killed.

The speaker and legislators of the provincial Assembly of Punjab province who support the move against Aasia Bibi are no better. When Mr. Shara, a minority member of the assembly, wanted to discuss the issue of Aasia and her punishment, the speaker, Rani Iqbal Ahmad, refused to allow Shara to speak on the issue, describing it as “sensitive”. Protesting against the speaker’s attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi. “The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia’s pardon,” he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman’s release are blasphemers.

It is very much feared that Aasia Bibi or her family members may be killed during her detention or when she is released. The Punjab government is silent on the issue and allowing fundamentalist groups to decide all things.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The deliberate institutionalisation of Islam’s status as protected and predominant promoted the perpetuation of religious intolerance by Islamic fundamentalists. According to data collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), at least 964 persons were alleged of violating these anti-blasphemy clauses from 1986 to August 2009, while more than 30 persons were killed extra-judicially by the angry mob or by individuals.

Militant Muslim organizations are using blasphemy laws as the best way to keep religious minority groups under pressure and even forcibly take land. The state is failing to protect the lives and property of minority communities. The blasphemy law has made it compulsory that no police officer below the level of Superintendent of Police can investigate the charges but this is rarely adhered to.

Recent cases in Pakistan suggest a criminal collaboration among government authorities, police, and fundamentalist organizations, in which the Muslim clergy, receiving bribes from land-grabbers in the National and Provincial Assemblies, colluded with local police to expropriate land owned by minorities by bringing blasphemy allegations against them. The situation is especially worrying in Punjab province after the formation of the PML-N government, which has a record of intolerant policies against Christians and Ahmadis in particular.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write the letters to the authorities urging them to pardon Aasia and release her immediately. Please ask them to arrest those Muslim leaders who are instigating the people to kill her and have announced rewards for killing her. Please also urge that the children and family members of her be provided protection and employment.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Religious tolerance calling for his intervention into this case.

To support this appeal please click here:
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SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Muslim leaders who issued decree to kill a Christian lady should be prosecuted

Name of victim:
Ms. Aasia Bibi, 45, mother of five living in Ittanwali village, Nanka district, Punjab province, Pakistan
Names of alleged perpetrators:
1. Maulani Yousuf Querashi, Imam Majid Mahabat Khan, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtonn Kha province, Pakistan
2. Maulana Muhammad Salim, Imam Masjid, Ittanwala village, Nankana district, Punjab province, Pakistan
3. Editor, daily Nawa-i-waqt, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan
Date of incident: November 1, 2010
Place of incident: Nankana district, Punjab province, Pakistan

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding death sentence of Aasia, a Christian mother of five, on the charges of blasphemy by a court and the government’s inability to prosecute those elements who are openly announcing their intention to kill her or award cash money for that purpose. Because of lawlessness and government weakness the Muslim extremist groups are finding it easy to kill her extra judicially. From past experience it has been noted that up until now, blasphemy law had not led to an execution of any accused or convicted. But 33 people charged with blasphemy have been killed in prison by guards or in the vicinity of the court.

It is very shocking that mosque leader Mahabat Khan, of Peshawar, has announced a decree calling for the killing of Asia and a reward of Rs 500,000 ($6000 USD) to be given to the killer. The call for extra judicial killing by an Muslim leader was totally ignored by the government, which shows that there is no rule of law in the country and every person can claim his own law is Islamic law. This amounts to a total collapse of rule of the law and justice system.

Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian and mother of five, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district, Punjab province, on charges of committing blasphemy. Ms Bibi’s case dates back to June 2009, when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields and a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl. This resulted in exchange of hot words between her and Muslim women against each others’ religious beliefs. Five days after the incident, a local Muslim leader, Qari Salem, jumped into the matter and pressured some people in the area to claim that she committed blasphemy.

When finding no way to get Ms. Bibi to confess, Salem used the loudspeakers of the mosque, as other Muslim leaders usually do in the cases of alleged blasphemy acts, to spread the news of blasphemy and instigate the people of the locality to punish the alleged blasphemer. The people of the locality beat her severely in the presence of her children. The local police came and took her into protective custody, but at the police station the crowd under the leadership of Qari Salem pressured the police to file a charge of blasphemy against her and arrest her for desecrating the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

On November 1, 2010, 16 months after her arrest, the court pronounced a death sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The judge totally ruled out in his judgment any chance that Aasia was falsely implicated; he said that there were no mitigating circumstances. His comment in his verdict shows that he knew that it was a weak case and that people will oppose his judgment giving a death sentence to a woman in a blasphemy case for the first time in the history of Pakistan. According to the reports, the court relied on the witnesses provided by the Muslim leader of the mosque and Christians were not allowed to produce any witness. The judge also did not know that according to the 2004 amendment to blasphemy law the investigation of any blasphemy charges should be conducted by an officer who is at least a Superintendent of Police (SP). In the case of Aasia, all the investigation was done by a low rank officer, the Assistant Sub-Inspector.

It has been found that Pakistan’s judges, from the lower courts to the highest courts, are eager to get popularity through their verdicts and comments during the hearing. When the chief justice of the Lahore High Court stopped the government from withdrawing the case of blasphemy against Aasia on the assumption that president of Pakistan would withdraw the case, Ms. Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association told the judges that if they want to get popularity through their judgment then they should do some other job rather than being a judge. The judiciary’s attitude towards the blasphemy law is no different than that of ordinary Muslim leaders. When the Chief Justice implored the government not to pardon the sentence, another bench of the same court also asked the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

It is also evident that those persons responsible for extra-judicial killings of persons accused of blasphemy will never be punished by the courts because of the biases of the courts and because of the lengthy period of trial during which witnesses were pressured by the militant groups.

A prominent Muslim leader, Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a hard line Pakistani Islamic cleric, told a rally in the north-western town of Peshawar that his mosque would give Rs. 0.5 million ($6,000 US dollars) to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. The Maulana is the leader of Mosque Mahabat Khan, the biggest in the Khyber Pakhtoon Kha province. His announcement was carried by all electronic and print media, yet the government has not taken any legal action against Maulana for inciting people to kill extra judicially. Muslim religious groups all over the Pakistan are holding protest meetings in large numbers, instructing followers that there should be no compromise if the government or courts pardon Aasia’s death sentence.

The governor of Punjab, who met Aasia in jail after her sentence and assured her that he would take her case before the president of Pakistan, advocating to pardon her. However, the Lahore high court suddenly stopped the process and said before the decision of the court that the government cannot do such a thing. All the religious groups and parties maligned the governor as he is violating the basic teachings of Islam.

Ms. Bibi’s husband and children are hiding. They left the house after receiving threats from the Muslim extremists. It is difficult for them to survive, as the husband and his other brothers are always chased by Muslim groups. There is a strong chance that her family would be attacked and might be killed as these happened in previous cases when persons were accused of blasphemy. In a recent case of two Christian brothers, the AHRC informed the authorities of the threat well before those brothers were killed in custody.

In another case dating from July 2009, a Christian youth was killed by extremists in November 2010 after being released from charges of blasphemy.

One daily newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt has written an editorial in favour of Maulana Yousuf Querashi, who issued a decree against Aasia Bibi and announced a cash reward for whomever kills Aasia Bibi. The newspaper wrote that Maulana was great in his decree and his action is according to Islam therefore Aasia Bibi should be killed.

The speaker and legislators of the provincial Assembly of Punjab province who support the move against Aasia Bibi are no better. When Mr. Shara, a minority member of the assembly, wanted to discuss the issue of Aasia and her punishment, the speaker, Rani Iqbal Ahmad, refused to allow Shara to speak on the issue, describing it as “sensitive”. Protesting against the speaker’s attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi. “The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia’s pardon,” he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman’s release are blasphemers.

It is very much feared that Aasia Bibi or her family members may be killed during her detention or when she is released. The Punjab government is silent on the issue and allowing fundamentalist groups to decide all things.

I urge the government to take strong action against the fundamentalist Muslim leaders who take the law in their own hands in the name of Islam and want to rule the country with their extremist designs and misuse the blasphemy law.

I urge you to immediately repeal the black law, the blasphemy law, or at least delete section 295 from the Pakistan Penal Code, release Aasia Bibi and provide protection to her and her family. Also prosecute those who issued decrees ordering the killing of Aasia Bibi.

I look forward to your prompt action to provide substantial and comprehensive policy responses on the protection of religious minority groups and misuse of blasphemy law.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +92 51 9204801 end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 51 9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2.Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk, pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk

3. Mr. A. Rehman Malik
Federal Minister for Interior
Government of Pakistan,
R block, Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +92 51 9212026 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 51 9212026, 51 9212026, 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com, interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

4. Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US AID Building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
E-mail: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

5. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99203044
E-mail: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

6. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore, Punjab province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

7. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore, Punjab province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99212004
E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

8. Dr. Faqir hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

Thank you.

11 Comments to “AHCR campaigns to prosecute Maulana Yousaf Qureshi”

  1. WHY ?
    Why internationally All religious punishment are implement only oppressed peoples !

  2. good about time Pakistan did something about all theese fake mullahs

  3. good about time Pakistan did something about all theese fake mullahs !

  4. Pakistan: Asia Bibi: Pakistani American committee calls for mercy now
    The group urges President Zardari not to give in to the threats of Islamic groups. The blasphemy law must be abolished or amended, human rights groups demand. Even the Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaaf, an Islamist party, calls for the law not to be used against innocent people.

    Lahore – Pakistanis living in the United States have joined human rights groups in urging the government to release Asia Bibi and reconsider the laws that discriminate against minorities. “We condemn the abuse of the blasphemy law and request President Asif Ali Zardari not to accede to the threats made by certain religious groups and award imminent clemency to Asia Bibi,” said the Islamabad representative of the Pakistani-American Public Affairs Committee (PAPAC), an umbrella organisation representing a dozen groups.

    In a recent meeting of its executive board, the Christian League of Pakistan also “strongly condemned the victimisation of innocent people under the blasphemy law”, reminding the government that “the entire world is awaiting a sane decision in the Asia Bibi case”.

    The group noted that President Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Human rights activist Asma Jehanghir and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer have all concluded that Asia Bibi is innocent.

    “This law encourages certain elements” who want to “institutionalize intolerance in the name of religion and spread social persecution and legal discrimination,” PAPAC’s Islamabad chapter observed. “As it stands, this law with its ambiguity harms Pakistan and its citizens.”

    The group urged the larger society in Pakistan to educate the masses of the virtue of tolerance.

    “Pakistanis must start a meaningful and focused dialogue to look at how the blasphemy laws are being abused and thus violating the basic premise of their creation—to protect minorities.”

    PAPAC also asked Pakistan’s legislators to amend and remove ambiguity and legal discrimination from sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which include the blasphemy provisions.

    A leading US human rights group also called on Pakistan’s government to abolish the blasphemy law and other discriminatory legislation.

    However, the Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaaf (PTI) held a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday. PTI Vice President Ejaz Chaudhry and secretary Information Omar Sarfaraz Cheema said that the principle of Namoos-e-Risalat (Respect of the Prophet) was mandatory for all Muslims.

    The party has always supported Article 295-C (blasphemy law) but has also made an effort to avoid its misuse.

    The PTI criticised the governor of Punjab, saying that it did not support his irresponsible statements on the issue of blasphemy. Nevertheless, it did recognise that Muslims have an obligation to protect the rights of minorities in a Muslim society, and that it would continue to strive for their just rights. However, it insisted that article 295-C should stay as part of the constitution.

    It urged ulemas, scholars, parliamentarians and members of minorities to work together to find a solution so that no innocent person is implicated under this law.

    In the meantime, the number of people signing up to the campaign launched by AsiaNews on behalf of Asia Bibi continues, with almost 8,000 people adding their name to the petition. To join, write to Salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it

    Source: Asia News

  5. International moot on Human Rights Day demands justice for Asia Bibi

    Washington DC: December 9, 2010. (PCP) The leaders from different International organizations participating in celebrations of Human Rights Day at National Press Club in Washington DC, organized by Responsible for Equality And Liberty Organization demanded justice for Asia Bibi and safety of her life after presentation of Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC.

    Mr. Mohamed Yahya, Niemat Ahmadi, C Naseer Ahmad, Yubin.pang, Maria Rohaly, Ahmar Mustikhan and Carol Cook delivered lectures on Human Rights.

    Mr. Jeffery Imm, Founder of Responsibility And Liberty Organization REAL delivered welcome speech and shed lights on situation of Human Rights in America and around world.

    Full contents of speech of Nazir S Bhatti:

    When we celebrate Universal Human Rights Day, we reaffirm our confidence in equal rights for human beings around world irrespective of religion, color or creed. I must submit on this occasion that Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Universal Human Rights doctrine being a member state of United Nations but fails to guarantee equal, basic, democratic rights under UDHR to millions of its citizens, specially religious minorities in its territory. In the constitution legislated after independence of Pakistan in 1947, we find Objective Resolution as a preamble with a paragraph on religious freedom and equal rights for minorities. However, in 1956 and 1962 constitutions of Pakistan the clauses on protection of minority rights were conveniently scratched. Then the “Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan” was adopted in 1973, in the absence of any minority legislator. Article 2, was added in the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, declaring the country an Islamic state and homeland of Muslims only.

    Later, the 4th amendment in the constitution declared Ahmadi Muslim sect to be non-Muslims while 8th amendment turned all non-Muslims to be second class citizens in Pakistan when through presidential orders of a military dictator, lHudood Ordinance, Law of Evidence, Law of Compensation, Article 302 of Federal Shariat Court and introduction of Blasphemy law Section 295-B and 295-C Pakistan Penal Code became part of constitution in 1986 under General Ziaul Haq..

    I would like to invite your attention on misuse of Islamic laws by the Muslim majority against religious minorities, specially the misue of blasphemy law to target innocent minority members. According to the Religious Freedom Report 2010, issued by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, more than 974 cases have been filed from 1986 to 2009, against individuals of religious minorities under section 295 B and C of Pakistan Penal Code. Under Section 295-C Pakistan Penal Code, any person guilty of defiling the name of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was made liable to suffer life imprisonment or death. Later, in 1991, instead of life imprisonment, capital punishment was inducted under the direction of the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan. According to Ahamadi Muslims, more than 250 individuals of Ahmadi Muslims have been charged under Section 295-C PPC in Pakistan.

    We have grave concerns about the safety of Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who was sentenced to death on an accusation of blasphemy law Section 295 B and C PPC on November 8, 2010, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, which by the way is toughest for minorities.

    According to fact finding mission of Pakistan Christian Congress, Aasia Bibi had some argument with her Muslim neighbor woman on her goat entering their home.

    After a week, when Aasia Bibi was working in a farm with Muslim women, on touching drinking water container, the same neighbor raised objection that the water had become polluted by touching of the water tumbler by Aasia Bibi, a Christian infidel. The Muslim woman screamed that calling Christianity is religion of God, Aasia Bibi has defiled Islam and attacked her. Aasia Bibi ran towards her home but Muslim women and men working in the farms followed her, dragged her out of home and tortured her and her children.

    Police arrived and took Asia Bibi to Saddar Police Station to save her life, After two days anFirst Information Report (FIR) was lodged against her under Section 295 B and C PPC, on the complaint of lthe Imam locval mosque on June 19, 2009. She is in Seikhupura Jail now, waiting for her appeal against death sentence in Lahore High Court.

    The President of Pakistan is empowered to pardon any sentence while Home Minister can withdraw any FIR according to constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The clemency appeal was submitted by Aasia Bibi to President of Pakistan but fundamentalist religious groups and Islamic political parties in Pakistan have launched a campaign against any pardon

    to a blasphemer. An Islamic cleric in Peshawar has announced reward of half a million Pakistani Rupees for any one who will kill Asia Bibi, which has created potential threat to her life. The Islamic political parties staged a massive rally in Islamabad and other major cities of Pakistan to pressure higher court to put the Christian woman to death.

    I also like to bring to your notice on November 18, 2010, Latif Masih aged 22, was shot dead in Punjab after he was granted bail after five months of imprisonment for “blasphemy” for allegedly burning pages of the Qur’an,. The Islamic extremists are taking law in their hands and murdering Christians falsely accused in blasphemy in broad day light to win heaven for them. It is on public record that radical elements gunned downed Pastor Emmanuel and his brother Sajjid in the compound of District Courts Faisalabad, when the two were brought in police escort for hearing in a blasphemy case on July 19, 2010. On July 30, 2009, hundreds of members of banned Muslim organizations, torched Christian homes and burned alive seven Christian women and children in Gojra City in Punjab province of Pakistan. The Muslim mob set on fire hundreds of homes and vandalized Churches in village Korian Bahminwali in Punjab after charges of blasphemy. On September 16, 2009, Robert Danish, a Christian youth was killed in Sialkot Central Jail in a

    security cell awaited trial in a blasphemy case.

    Moreover, Islamic militants gunned down Justice Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti of Lahore High Court on October 19, 1997, in his office on acquitting two people who were accused of blasphemy. On June 5, 1994, a blasphemy accused Manzoor Masih died on the spot in front of Lahore High Court when Islamic elements attacked him. It is also for record that Bantu Masih, 80, and Mukhtar Masih, 50, were arrested on an allegation of committing blasphemy and stabbed to death in the Police Station in the city of Lahore.

    Tahir Iqbal facing sentence in blasphemy was killed in Lahore District Jail on July 7, 1991. A Christian teacher Niamat Ahmar was also killed by Islamic extremists on accusation of blasphemy law.

    Keeping in view killing of Christians accused of blasphemy, the Pakistani Christians fear that Aasia Bibi is not safe in Pakistan like many other blasphemy victims gunned down by the hands of religious fanatics. In our appeal to Secretary General of United Nations dated 2nd December 2010, we urged him to press upon government of Pakistan to ensure justice and to adopt necessary measures for safety of Aasia Bibi and her family. We have also submitted an appeal with EU, urging safety for Aasia Bibi and repeal of blasphemy law.

    On this Day, Universal Human Right Day, we Pakistani Christian appeal to US administration to press upon government of Pakistan to repeal controversial blasphemy law which is being used against religious minorities to settle business rivalries and personal petty disputes.

    We also appeal US administration to condition aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar with religious freedom and human rights so that every citizen of Pakistan may enjoy equal basic democratic and human rights.

    We also invite attention of UN General Assembly member states and their representatives in United Nations Human Right Council UNHRC to re-consider their stance on “Defamation of Religion” resolution, presented by Pakistan on behalf of Organization of Islamic Countries, prepared by Egypt and seconded by U.S.A., in present situation of religious minorities in Islamic states because Pakistan wants to globalize blasphemy law.
    http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=2480

  6. PPP mindful of human rights obligations: President Zardari
    The News – December 09, 2010 : President Asif Ali Zardari has urged the nation to strengthen peace and democracy and resist violation of human rights to make Pakistan a peaceful and prosperous country.

    “I call upon every conscientious person to raise voice against the misuse of some laws against the vulnerable,” President Zardari said in a message on the Universal Human Rights Day The President said the day was an occasion to reiterate resolve to uphold basic human rights of all individuals regardless of caste, creed or any other consideration.

    The President said the People of Pakistan and particularly the workers of the Pakistan People’s party instinctively know what human rights are and what their violation means to their bodies and souls.

    President Zardari said the workers have learnt it in the course of their struggle for raising the dignity of every individual.

    He recalled that when Shaheed Mohtarma Bhutto returned to the country in October 2007 despite dangers to her life she said it was “for the right of men and women to live in security and dignity and in liberty”.

    He said the theme of the Day this year “Democracy Peace and Human Rights” underscores the fact that peace, democracy and human rights are vitally interlinked.
    “We must defeat militancy, end poverty and work towards equality and non-discrimination as necessary elements for creating a peaceful society.”

    President Zardari said the government was determined to fight militancy and alleviate poverty to usher in peace as well as freedom needed for uplift of human dignity in a parched land.

    “Our religion Islam also teaches us deep respect for rights of all human beings. It upholds the eternal values of equal rights, social justice and peace, and banishes discrimination on the basis of class, colour or creed.”

    President Zardari said the government was also conscious of international obligations to protect and promote human rights.

    “We recently ratified the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We ware fully cognizant of our responsibilities to take practical steps for the implementation of both the Conventions,” he added.

    “Let us on this day also spare a thought to the weak, the needy and the deprived whose human rights are most endangered and pledge to extricate them from want and deprivation.”

    The President said his thoughts also go to the vulnerable women and minorities- and how women laws have been misused against them.

  7. Pakistani Christian Protest for release of Asia Bibi in front of UN

    New York. December 10, 2010. (PCP) Pakistani Christians from Tri-State area rallied in front of United Nations offices for release of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, sentenced to death on charges of defiling name of Prophet Mohammad.

    The Christians protested in front of Pakistan Consulate in New York in chilled weather here this morning from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon for immediate release of Asia Bibi and presented Memorandum to Counsel General. The protestors later rallied in front of United Nations Offices from 1;30 PM to 2:30 PM.

    The Christian leaders chanted slogans “Release Asia Bibi” “Repeal Blasphemy Law” “Where are Champions of Human Rights” “Wake UP UNO”

    It was Human Rights Day today and protest of Pakistani Christians was to mark this day with release of Asia Bibi and repeal of blasphemy law which have snatched equal democratic rights of Pakistani Christians.

    The protestors also expressed their anger on LHC decision to block President Asif Ali Zardari to block his powers to pardon Asia Bibi and to hold any revision in blasphemy law until decision on appeal of Asia Bibi against her death sentence under section 295 B and C PPC.

    The PCA leaders, William Shahzad, Babar Khokhar, James Gill and Nazir S Bhatti, were among protestors. Rev. Father Ilyas Gill, Coordinator, Catholic Apostolate, Diocese Brooklyn, led procession while Mr. James Cyprian, Chief Coordinator of Peace World Wide and Mr. Asif John Khokhar, President of Pakistani American Christian Foundation also participated among dozens of other Christians.

    http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=2488

  8. اگر ہائی کورٹ نے مبینہ ملعونہ کی سزا براقرار رکھی اور زرداری نے اس کو آئنی پاکستان کی ایک غیر امتیازی شق کے تحط معاف کردیا اور رہا کرنے کا حکم جاری کیا تو میں کاشف نصیر اعلان کرتا ہوں کہ اس ملعونہ میں دھونڈ کے قتل کردوں گا۔ اب جو کرنا ہے کرلو!
    اور ہاں میں کوئی ملا نہیں اور نہ ہی میں نے ڈاڑھی بڑھائی ہوئی ہے!
    میں یہ کام کرکے علامہ اقبال کی نصیحت پر عمل کروں گا، یہ نصیحت علامہ اقبال نے غازی علم دین شہید اور غازی عبدل قیوم شہید کے حوالے سے کی ضرب کلیم کی نظم کراچی اور لاہور میں کی تھی۔

  9. Speaker Punjab Assembly does not allow members to discuss blasphemy laws.

    Heated debate on blasphemy marks first day of PA session

    * Minority MPAs leave House in protest after speaker bars them from talking about blasphemy laws

    * Speaker tells Raja Riaz not to use indecent words during proceedings

    By Hussain Kashif

    LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly, on the first day of its 21st session, witnessed hot debates on the issue of blasphemy when minority MPAs tried to speak over the Aasia Bibi issue, but the chair did not allow them to do so.

    The minority MPAs, including Pervez Rafiq and Joel Sahotra, left the house in protest saying that they would prefer to walk out of the proceedings.

    They were brought back to the House after some time by treasury members, and on seeing the minority MPAs return, the PA speaker proclaimed “welcome back”.

    The members tried to express their views over the blasphemy law repeatedly, but the speaker did not allow them to speak, saying that the matter was very sensitive.

    However, the MPAs tabled a resolution in favour of their demands and urged the government to review the country’s blasphemy laws.

    The House again faced a bitter situation when Pakistan People’s Party MPA Ashraf Sohna tried to speak in favour of the review of the blasphemy law, but MMA parliamentary leader Ali Haider Niazi immediately stood up and said, “We will not allow anyone to even think about making amendments in the blasphemy law.”

    The Punjab Assembly proceedings, on its first day, started one hour and 50 minutes late from its scheduled time under the chair of Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal. After the recitation of the verses from the holy Quran, the speaker announced names for the panel of the chairpersons, namely Mian Yawar Zaman, Mian Mohsin Latif, Amanullah Dreshak and Bushra Gardezi.

    Also, newly-elected MPA, Raina Rizvi, took oath on the first day of the session. The House also offered fateha for former parliamentarian Haji Maqsood Butt and for the relatives of parliamentarians and bureaucrats that had passed away recently.

    During the session, the speaker asked PPP Punjab minister Raja Riaz not to use indecent words in the House after his attention was drawn towards the “non-serious attitude” of the senior minister by opposition member Seemal Kamran, who walked out from the House in protest, saying that the senior minister should act like a parliamentarian.

    Meanwhile, opposition member Samia Amjad, in a very humble manner, requested the speaker to notice the indecent words being used by the senior minister, on which the speaker took notice.

    On the issue of the WikiLeaks reports, Riaz, on a point of order, rejected the leaked cables and said the matter was a conspiracy to create rifts between Muslim countries. He said that every one should condemn the conspiracy being hatched against Muslim countries, adding that the PPP had already rejected it. He urged the government to take action and punish those responsible for such reports. Opposition leader in the House, Chaudhry Zaheeruddin, also spoke on the issue of the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and said that inflation would increase after the imposition of such taxes, adding that the RGST would have a negative impact on the country’s economy.

    Later, the House also took up privilege motions that were kept pending on the request of the law minister. The House also disposed off adjournment motions kept pending in the last session.

    Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah also laid the Annual Report on Observance and Implementation of Principles of Policy for 2009. The law minister also introduced the Provincial Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2010 that was referred to the standing committee with the direction to submit its report in one month.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010124story_4-12-2010_pg13_1

  10. Religious lobby is running riot in Pakistan
    Calls for Asia Bibi to be executed under draconian blasphemy laws show religious leaders have no answer to Pakistan’s crises

    By Mustafa Qadri
    While the country reels from flood devastation, an increasing gap between rich and poor, and a ceaseless energy recession, Pakistan’s religious lobby has lined up to attack a straw woman. Yet again a powerful political lobby has decided to focus on an issue that will not solve the nation’s most pressing problems.

    It all began when last year Muslim women in the village of Ittan Walli refused to take water from mother-of-five Asia Bibi because she was Christian. According to one of the women, Bibi reacted with disgust and, it is claimed, made disparaging remarks about the prophet Muhammad. Soon the local cleric and police were involved and Asia was behind bars for breaching Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has already spent close to 18 months in one of Pakistan’s hellish prisons.

    The blasphemy laws – a set of provisions inserted into Pakistan’s criminal laws under the Islamist dictator General Ziaul Haq – made it a crime punishable by death for anyone charged with defiling the Qur’an or defaming the prophet Muhammad.

    The Lahore high court has taken the unprecedented step of barring the president of Pakistan from pardoning Bibi, a step decried as unconstitutional by legal experts. The blasphemy law “turns them [minorities] into second-class citizens, deprived of freedom of expression or belief,” says Human Rights Watch’s Ali Dayan Hasan.

    If squeaky wheels do indeed get the grease then Pakistan’s vocal religious lobby have been liberally lathered by successive governments and a pliant media. Along with criticism of the military establishment, honest and critical exposure of religious chauvinism is a dangerous business.

    In Peshawar, Maulana Yusuf Qureshi offered a reward of Rs500,000 (£3,600) to anyone who killed Bibi if the government did not execute her, an astonishing incitement against a fellow citizen. That included calling on the Taliban to take matters into their own hands and murder Bibi if the government did not. A lead editorial in Nawa-e-Waqt, one of the biggest Urdu-language newspapers in the country, lauded Qureshi’s rhetoric. If only sharia law applied in Pakistan, the editorial went on to lament, the current debate over reforming the blasphemy law would be entirely moot.

    Meanwhile in Mohmand tribal agency, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a massive suicide blast at a meeting of government officials and a local anti-Taliban Lashkar that killed 44.

    Pakistan’s federal minister for minorities and the governor of Punjab have both been threatened with death for calling for Bibi’s death sentence to be commuted. Former information minister Sherry Rehman has also received death threats for introducing a private members bill calling for the blasphemy laws to be amended to reduce its misuse.

    The clear link between the terrorism that has rocked Pakistan and the blasphemy-related incitement to violence cannot have been lost on the Nawa-e-Waqt editors, Qureshi or others. Like the popular mantra that the terrorism is the work of India and other foreign actors and not home grown, the kill Bibi campaign reflects the simple fact that our most powerful religious leaders have no answers relevant to the crises faced by Pakistan.

    At a time when WikiLeaks has disclosed the abject hypocrisy of one of the key apologists for the Taliban and Islamist excesses in our country – who despite publicly blaming the US for all the problems faced by Pakistan privately lobbyied to be made prime minister “for a price” – it is worth remembering that the Islamist lobby represents the worst kind of opportunism.

    Even Sufi-religious orders such as Sunni Tehreek, often touted as a more liberal antidote to the Taliban and its Wahabi supporters in Pakistan, have called for Bibi to be killed and the existing blasphemy law to remain in force.

    Scholars who genuinely practice the theological precepts of ijtihed, or independent reasoning, a vital ingredient for challenging the present chauvinism, are thin on the ground. One of their most important members, Dr Umar Farooq, was murdered by the Taliban because of his involvement in an impressive army programme to deradicalise young men trained to be suicide bombers.

    Even the architect of the blasphemy laws under which Bibi has been sentenced has admitted they are too draconian and liable to abuse. Others have argued that at least, for the first time, some Pakistanis are able to openly talk about amending or repealing the blasphemy laws. And true we are not a nation of intolerant Muslims. But if the majority of us remain silent as the dangerous winds of intolerance spread through our villages and mosques, what exactly does it mean to be tolerant?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/dec/09/religious-lobby-pakistan-asia-bibi

  11. If there is hell, I am 100% sure this Mullah Yusuf Qureshi and people like Kashif will be together on the top level of burning hell. These idiots have no idea about the issue and forcing to kill her….. she never preach anything against Prophet Muhammad and she never published anything against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the matter was just verbal argument between some women and they got their revenge like medical rep did in Hyderabad against doctor. If government never review this controversial law, sooner it will create more hell for this burning nation.

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