Unending persecution of Asia
Even after languishing in jails for eight years and passing through unimaginable physical and mental traumas, the persecution of Aasia Bibi has not ended yet. Life is becoming difficult for her in Pakistan day by day. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has set her free in a blasphemy case, she cannot live in peace in her birthplace. The only option for the state to end her misery is to shift her to some other safe place but this task also involves dangers of bringing more anarchy in the country due to the rigid mindset of religious zealots. Though the state functionaries including Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and Foreign Office officials are denying reports on deportation of Aasia, yet unconfirmed news are circulating that she has already been flown out. In this regard, the State Minister’s statement is commendable who has clarified that that Aasia Bibi’s name cannot be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) until she is proven guilty by a court of law or until such orders are given by the Supreme Court. This statement gives a glimmer of hope that the government is taking a stand against injustice but a lot more needs to be done to end her sufferings. Instead of shifting our country mates belonging to the minority communities to other countries, the state needs to purge the society of all miscreants who pose a threat to non-Muslim citizens of the state.
Aasia Bibi is hardly alone in being subjected to subhuman conditions due to the climate of fear and intimidation created around blasphemy cases by sadistic and sanctimonious religious hardliners. So fearful is the political class and the judiciary of rocking the boat and invoking the wrath of the mullahs on themselves that absolutely nothing is being done to prevent the misuse and abuse of the blasphemy law and its various loopholes as a tool of minority oppression and elimination. No ounce of moral courage is evident anywhere. Human dignity is degraded on a regular basis because the criminal justice system is held hostage by a violent minority with impunity. It is disheartening to see that rather than rooting out and dissuading potential religious vigilantes within the ranks of prison guards, it is considered acceptable and more convenient to merely remove Aasia Bibi from the picture. This level of permissiveness and acceptance of self-righteous violence will consume the country like a poison.
Pakistan was envisaged to be a safe country for everyone including the non-Muslims where everyone could enjoy equal rights without any discrimination. Even Quaid-i-Azam’s first cabinet included ministers with different religions. Over the years, minorities have been persecuted in Pakistan due to the apathy of the religious clergy of the country. State succumbed to the pressure of the religious lobbies, and the religion was left to them for exploitation. The discrimination against the minorities has become so common that no one bothers to care about the issue. The incidents like that of Aasia Bibi are glaring examples of the religious bigotry in Pakistani society.