Pakistan Rights Lawyer Condemns Acquittal Cleric In Blasphemy Case

CLERIC
Cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti has been released.


By BosNewsLife Asia Service

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- A leading rights lawyer says he is "disappointed" that a Muslim cleric who  "falsely" accused a Christian girl of blasphemy has been released, while several Christians remain in Pakistani jails for allegedly hurting Islamic feelings.

"We were disappointed about the judgment of the [Islamabad] court in the case of Khalid Jadoon Chishti. He tempered the evidence by adding Koranic pages into ashes [to blame the girl] Rimsha Masih of blasphemy," said lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, director of the Legal Evangelical Association Development group.

Masih, 14, was detained in August 2012 and spent three weeks in one of Pakistan's toughest jails, but the case against her was eventually quashed amid international pressure.

She moved to Canada, after the clerk himself was accused of "desecrating the Koran" and "tampering with evidence" against Rimsha.

Yet on Saturday, August 17, the court acquitted Chishti of all charges "as six out of eight eyewitnesses retracted their statements," complained Gill, who closely followed the case.

BIBI BEHIND BARS

At the same time Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, "remains in prison after being sentenced to death in November 2010 after other women claimed she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed," he said.

Additionally Sawan Masih, a 35-year-old Pakistani street sweeper, was "falsely accused of blasphemy by a close friend." He has been in a jail in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, since March this year and "is now awaiting justice in his release," Gill told BosNewsLife.

"I believe he could be released on bail as the arguments from the prosecution are very weak," he said in an interview with BosNewsLife Tuesday, August 20.

The cases have added concerns about controversial blasphemy legislation in Pakistan, said Gill, who himself is in hiding following death threats from Islamic militants.

"In 2011, politicians Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated for demanding that the blasphemy law be reformed. This demand still continues by Pakistani Christians and other minority groups," he told BosNewsLife.

THREATS AND KILLINGS

"An accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused and even police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats,attacks and extra judicial killings," Gill noted.

Such allegations are "sometimes the prelude to vigilantism and rioting as it happened in Gojra and Lahore" where churches and homes have been destroyed and Christians killed in deadly violence.

"Those who are accused of blasphemy including their family members have to face many hardships and to move from one place to another for their safety," said Gill, who has been defending Christians.

He claimed that the threats can continue "not for years but even for a whole life."

At least 52 people accused of blasphemy have been killed in recent years, according to rights investigators.

"NO PROPER INVESTIGATION"

Gill said Pakistani Christians are often "immediately booked in blasphemy cases without a proper investigation."

However the lawyer acknowledged there has been much pressure on police by Muslims.

"If the accused is [not a Christian but] a Muslim, they have many ways to investigate and try to save them from this...possibly death-sentence carrying blasphemy allegation," he said.

Representatives of Christians, who comprise roughly three percent of Pakistan's over 193 million people, have complained about rising Islamic extremism in the country.

(With reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J.Bos)

ALSO READ:

Pakistan Acquits Cleric In Girl Blasphemy Case


(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).

Help BosNewsLife to be the voice of the voiceless. Click here for a subscription.

3 thoughts on “Pakistan Rights Lawyer Condemns Acquittal Cleric In Blasphemy Case

  1. Dear Khalid Shahzad,

    Mr. Gill is a respected Christian rights lawyer. Your commentary suggests that you don’t appreciate his work, underscoring the pressure he is facing in Pakistan, and the prime reason why we also published your comment. He is NOT a total fraud and does NOT build “fiscal” stories, whatever that means.

    Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife

  2. It’s really sad when the supreme being, in a religion, has to have humans do it’s bidding. It makes it seem that being’s powers are only a mental illusion rather than the gift of eternal life and happiness.
    May these records forever bear witness to the truth. Forced obedience is no witness or truth at all, it’s just brutality.

  3. The Gill is not social and minority rights activist. He is black mailer whom looking pride money and luxury life.He build fiscal stories. He is total fraud. I can prove it.

Leave a Comment