Pakistan (MNN) — After years of silence on Asia Bibi’s case, there is finally a new development. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has agreed to hear Bibi’s appeal.
Bibi was arrested back in 2009 and charged with blasphemy after a dispute at work with some Muslim women. She was convicted of blasphemy the following year and sentenced to death.
The Lahore High Court upheld Bibi’s death sentence in 2014. Her execution was stayed by the Supreme Court a year later. Bibi made a final appeal, but her hearing has been continually pushed off as she languishes on death row.
According to The Express Tribune, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said to Bibi’s attorney, Saiful Malook, “Your appeal in Aasia Bibi [case] is going to be fixed soon as I myself will preside [over] the bench.”
Bruce Allen with FMI says there is hope that Bibi’s appeal may be heard as early as this summer.
“No date has been fixed yet, but that is good news that we could be coming near to the end of this legal battle on behalf of Asia Bibi.”
This latest development once again draws international attention to Bibi’s ongoing and controversial case. While political leaders and humanitarian organizations call for Bibi’s release, violent mobs in Pakistan protest her release.
Allen says, “In the case of Asia Bibi, even if the Supreme Court acquits her,…she is not safe on the streets of Pakistan. There are people who have it in their mind to kill her if she ever leaves prison.”
Bibi conveyed a message through her family asking Christians around the world to join in a day fasting and prayer last Friday.
“It is giving her great emotional support to know that her brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are praying for her, are advocating on her behalf and trying to keep international attention focused on the case.”
The blasphemy law is often used as a hammer wielded to satisfy personal grudges in Pakistan. Christians especially are disproportionately targeted by these blasphemy accusations.
Another blasphemy case we are following is that of Ahmed, an influential laborer for Christ in Pakistan. Both he and his attorney have been attacked in court and the trial continues despite multiple affirmations that the charges against Ahmed are baseless.
Allen says, for Christians in Pakistan, “It’s very wearying for them. I know several who say, ‘When we see the attacks — whether they are the legal attacks where cases go to court like Asia Bibi or other types of just physical attacks in society, acid being thrown on people because of their faith — we see these things happening and it can just weigh us down and be very discouraging if that’s what we end up focusing on.”
For Asia Bibi, for Ahmed, and for all persecuted Christians in Pakistan, please lift them up in unified prayer as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Pray for their perseverance. In the book of Hebrews, we are told to remember those in prison as if it were us. What would we want people to be remembering on our behalf when they are interceding for us? So pray for their perseverance, that they would hold up not just under physical difficulties, but the emotional difficulty — the loneliness that’s there, the separation from family, the physical separation from the people who are praying for you and would want to give you hugs and encouragement.”
Specifically, for Asia Bibi, Allen asks, “We want to pray for [her] attorneys [and] their families who are also undergoing this struggle…. Pray for their emotional stability [and] their wisdom in anticipating what next steps need to be taken because there could be so many different contingencies.”