By Feroz Khan
Babar Awan’s statement proves that the state of Pakistan is incapable of removing any laws once they are created on the basis of religion. In the last few days, if anyone has noticed, the statements coming from the officialdom have gradually obscured the issue. Therefore, one has to applaud Babar Awan for his honesty and candor for calling a spade a spade. In this sense, Babar Awan stands heads and shoulders above those minions of Pakistani politics, who do not have the moral and intellectual courage to state the truth in Pakistan.
First, Salmaan Taseer proclaims that Asif Ali Zardari will pardon Asiya Bibi and then, the minister for minorities, Bhatti, says that Zardari will pardon her but it will not be an immediate pardon and will take time. Then, comes a statement from Zardari’s office that since Asiya Bibi has filed an appeals, Zardari will wait for the appeal process to run its course and wait for the court judgement, on the appeal, before issuing a pardon. Zardari is a cunning politician and by saying this, he has taken himself off the hook and created a situation, where he does not have to take a decision on the matter. He has cleverly deflected international pressure and opinion by saying that the matter is being considered and he cannot prejudice the legal proceedings by issuing a pardon at this stage.
How long will this process last? The courts in Pakistan are an expletive deleted, when it comes to delivering justice. No judge, in their right mind, will over turn the judgement of the lower courts and risk a premature death at the hands of religious parties. Judges, when they decide cases like this one, think of their families and how to protect them from the backlash and not what the law says on the matter. This means that the proceedings will be made hostage to the procedural nature of the legal system in Pakistan and may take years; while the poor woman continues to languish in jail. In the mean time, as is the wont of our times, a new crisis will emerge and this issue will fade into a quiet, unmourned death.
Asiya Bibi, to be candid, does not qualify for a presidential pardon as she has not doing anything to deserve it. There are no allegations of corruption, murder, embezzlement or fakery associated with her and the presidential pardon is only reserved for criminals and those in Pakistan, who have the power to abuse the system and get themselves pardoned.
One must applaud Babar Awan for stating the truth and reminding everyone in Pakistan, what the reality is and the reality is that no politician will challenge the blasphemy laws, because they need need the political support of the mullahs to remain in power and no politician or political party in Pakistan, will jeopardize its political options by alienating the one core constituency, which matters in Pakistan and from which deprives all notions of legitimacy – religion.
Another aspect to ponder, by those who cherish hopes and are holding candles alight, is what does Asiya Bibi have to offer the politicians that they should risk their political fortunes for her sake? Can she offer a bribe of 50 crore rupees (confirmed by a very good source as what the going rate of bribes is at the very highest echelons of this government.) Can she rig the elections and give this government and Zardai another term of office?
One only has to listen to the silence of complicity to realize that nothing will happen and this is all a charade to fool the utopians in Pakistan. Where is the cross-eyed chief justice of Pakistan and why is he silent? Simply, because Asiya Bibi has nothing to offer him in areas that matter to him and his patron, Nawaz Sharif. Where is the so-called champion of liberal causes Asma Janghir about whom everyone was waxing lyrical a few weeks back or is the reality true that she takes cases, which only place her in the lime light?
What is important to Asma Jahangir; Asiya Bibi and her plight or the politics of the Supreme Court Bar Association?
Sherry Rehman says that if the blasphemy laws cannot be repealed; they should be made toothless by passing laws, which seek to amend them and curb their worst practices. This is, as a Russian tsar once said, utopian nonsense. The blasphemy laws cannot be amended because to do so, would be going against the strictures of the Pakistani constitutional thought, which says no laws repugnant to Islam or sunnah can be made and therefore, any amendments that seek to modify such existing laws, are by their very intent and purpose, against the idea of Islam and sunnah as enshrined in our laws and cannot be amended or repealed.
The silence of the government, the politicians; those who have the authority to save Asiya Bibi says volumes and if one wants to understand their true intentions on this subject, then one must listen to their silence and become deaf to their words. Pakistan is merrily trotting on the path to hell, because everyone in Pakistan has good intention and our problem as a nation is that we believe the intentions of those who promise us to fetch water from the moon, but never hold them accountable for not delivering it or even bother to ask them, in the first place, how how they hope to do it?