Arrested Christian to move in Pakistan

By January 20, 2011

Pakistan (MNN) — Asia Bibi, the Pakistani-Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, will soon be shifted to an all-women prison due to security concerns.

According to Assist News, Sheikhpura Prison superintendent Khalid Sheikh told the media, "I have received directives from the Punjab Home Department to shift Asia from Sheikhupura district jail to an all-women jail in Multan, as her life is in danger in Sheikhpura jail."

The transfer is expected to take place at night under heavy security within the next seven days. The Punjab Home Department has directed the Inspector General of Police to provide heavy security to ensure a safe transfer.

Mr. Kashif Mazhar, a senior spokesman for Life for All, told the media, "It is good that Asia is being shifted, but the transfer should be kept confidential as the extremists are vigilantly looking for an opportunity to kill Asia Bibi. She should be flown in a helicopter as the matter is extremely serious."

The Christian community raised their concern to the authorities and the Federal Minister for minority affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, claiming that Asia Bibi is not being provided sufficient security despite constant life threats from militants and rewards being announced across Pakistan to kill Asia Bibi.

Asia's husband Ashiq Masih also appealed to the authorities to raise her security, as her life is in danger. Ministry of Interior had asked the Punjab government to increase security for Asia Bibi in Sheikhupura jail.

An official report released on January 11, 2011 by the provincial intelligence agency said that the severity of threat to the life of Asia Bibi spiked after the assassination of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, but the provincial government is yet to take effective security measures.

"Asia Bibi is incarcerated in the women's barrack in Sheikhupura district jail along with 15 or 16 other detainees. Just one lady warden has been assigned to her inside the jail and five police constables deputies to secure the jail's perimeter, along with two motorcycle squads assigned to patrol the jail periphery," said the report.

The report also said that the guards assigned to her "are not vigilant and most of the times they are absent, especially the motorcycle riders."

As she waits for her case to be appealed to the Lahore High Court, Asia Bibi spends her time talking to her female prison guards, catching up with the news from a television placed in a nearby room, and reading an Urdu Bible given to her by supporters.

She is not a fluent reader, said Pastor Obed Robert, a local pastor for Life for All Ministries who regularly visits her and supports her family. But during her months of incarceration she had taken particular comfort from the words of John Chapter 14, Verse 1, which says: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me."

Pray that God will use her situation to be a shining example of Christ during difficult times.

Pakistan ranks #11 on Open Doors World Watch list of nations where Christians are most persecuted.

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