Aasia Bibi’s Acquittal & Pakistan’s Treatment Toward Minorities

Pakistan’s flag consists of two colors: green and white. The green in the flag represents Islam and the majority which is Muslims, and the white stripes represent religious minorities. When I first found out about the meaning behind my home country’s flag, it gave me a good laugh because Pakistan, for the most part, allowed for the persecution of minorities to go on for years with minimum police and government intervention.

Many minorities in Pakistan to this day are denied basic human rights and are often targeted and persecuted.

I grew up hearing stories about my family back home hiding their identity for their whole life and having to sneak around to practice their faith. Often they would be ridiculed at school, shops, workplaces etc. It wasn’t till May 28, 2010, when I realized the seriousness of the issue when a family member of mine was brutally murdered. 

The single deadliest attack on Ahmadis was on 28 May 2010 when two Ahmadi mosques were stormed by terrorists and 86 Ahmadi worshippers (including a British citizen) were massacred. No one has been prosecuted for the attacks despite the fact that one of the attackers was apprehended and handed to the police by unarmed worshippers.” 

This is an example out of the hundreds of targetted killings that happened on Pakistan’s land that proved to minorities that they are not safe in this country. Many of these attacks are not taken seriously by the police, their effort to lock up people who kill minorities shows us what the nation really stands for. While innocent victims are locked up in jail, people who kill minorities roam the streets freely with no worry that their country will lock them up.

More recently, Aasia Bibi who was put on death row was acquitted by the supreme court. In June 2009, Aasia was working in a farm harvesting berries when she went to get a drink of water. She drank out of a cup nearby when she was told by someone that she cannot drink out of the same cup Muslims drink from, as some of the other workers believe she is unclean because of her Christian faith. The women who told her to not drink out of the cup went on to make derogatory statements against Christianity. Aasia stood up for herself and her religion stating that “Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?” 5 days after this took place, the women formed a mob and accused her of insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) — she was then assaulted by the mob. A local imam gave her the option to convert to Islam or choose death; she disagreed and said they should show mercy as she never did such a thing. After this, a mob later went to her house to assault her again before the police took her into custody. November 2010, Aasia was sentenced to death by hanging and a fine was given as well.

The case was acquitted recently for many reasons, a few of them being: only two accusations were made, contradictory statements and much more. This gave Christians in Pakistan a sign of relief; meanwhile, Muslims in the country took on the streets to riot and protest against the acquittal. Aasia Bibi has gotten many death threats from people and organizations. The riots and protests got so bad that the prime minister of Pakistan called for an emergency meeting on the law and order in the country due to the protests happening across the country.

The reactions from this case are not shocking to anyone, once again the people of Pakistan have shown the world that they do not care for their minorities. If you look into Pakistan’s treatment towards minorities in the last 15–20 years you would find that this isn’t the first time Pakistan has shown that they do not care for their minorities. Pakistan needs to look deeper into its history and revisit the basis the country was built off of and what they are now. Jinnah was a perfect example of what Pakistan really stood for, and now it is the opposite of what he envisioned for Pakistan.

“Democracy, equality, freedom on the highest sense of integrity and on the basis of fair play and justice for everyone. Let us make the constitution of Pakistan.” –M Ali Jinnah

What is even scarier about Aasia Bibi’s case is the reaction of citizens who still believe she should be hanged — even after the court proved when the case was acquitted that many of the statements were contradictory and fabricated, showing that the witnesses’ stories did not add up. Many are angry with the judges who allowed for the acquittal to take place, putting anyone who was involved in the case at risk.

It’s saddening to know that many minorities in Pakistan aren’t safe in their country, but with a case like Aasia Bibi’s, it gives minorities hope that change is coming, even if it took a long time for the case to be acquitted. It’s a step in the right direction and gives us hope that maybe, just maybe, Pakistan will be able to give basic human rights to its minorities. 

 

(Featured Image: PakistanToday)