The Asia Bibi Case Reveals That Pakistan Favors Extremism Over Justice
Pakistan is a state that not only harbors extremists but incorporates their wicked ideology into law. For years, Pakistani religious minorities have suffered under the nation’s barbaric blasphemy laws, with dozens sentenced to death and many more brutally imprisoned, tortured, or attacked by extremist mobs. The prosecution and treatment of Asia Bibi under this absurd blasphemy law has revealed Pakistan to be governed by radical mobs rather than a fair justice system.
Asia Bibi, whose real name is Aasiya Noreen, has been sitting on Pakistan’s death row for nine years for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad when she was told she could not drink from the same cup as Muslims because she is a Christian. For defending herself and standing for universal values of religious liberty and human rights, she was horrifically beaten in front of her five children and condemned to die by Pakistan’s courts. Fortunately, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has shown some sense of justice and acquitted Bibi because there was no evidence to convict her.
Yet her fate remains uncertain. Extremists have protested the court’s decision across Pakistan and made clear their violent intent if she is released. In fact, two prominent Pakistani politicians who spoke out in defense of Bibi, were assassinated in 2011, including the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet.
However, it’s unclear if the Pakistani government will protect her and not cave to extremist demands—as it has so many times before. Right now, Bibi and her family’s lives are in danger. Being a Christian in Pakistan already is a huge risk but being one that has simply been accused of insulting Islam is to put a bounty on their heads for which Pakistan’s multiple terrorist groups are eager to collect. Bibi’s lawyer has already sought asylum for himself and his family in the Netherlands because of the death threats. But Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has signaled he will appease the extremists by potentially blocking her attempts to flee Pakistan and vowing not to oppose a review of the Supreme Court’s acquittal. This is unacceptable and demonstrates that Pakistan’s leaders favor extremism over justice.
Perhaps, the only thing worse than Pakistan surrendering its rule of law to extremists is that the United States spends billions of dollars to support this corrupt government. There is no justification for our tax dollars subsidizing persecution of Christians and other minorities. America must end its assistance to Pakistan and send a clear message that its current course towards an extremist state ends in isolation.
And that’s just the way it is.