Pakistani husband and wife Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih, both Christians, were sentenced to death on 4 April 2014 on a charge of blasphemy. They had been convicted of sending blasphemous text messages to an imam from a phone number registered in Shagufta Kausar’s name.
Now, on 3 June, a final hearing of their appeal will take place at Lahore High Court. The couple are to be represented by Saif ul Malook, who successfully argued for Aasia Bibi to be acquitted of a blasphemy charge in January 2019. Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, who upheld Aasia Bibi’s conviction before it was overturned by the Supreme Court, will preside over the division bench hearing the case.
Please pray for justice to be done and for Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih to be freed.
For further background, see articles from the Express Tribune and the BBC.
3 June 2020: The appeal hearing has been delayed, with a new date yet to be announced.
We praise the Lord that press reports of Aasia Bibi’s resettlement in Canada with her family have now been confirmed by Barnabas Fund.
Please pray for the family’s adaptation to living in an unfamiliar culture and climate, separated from their relatives and having to learn a new language.
Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association has reported today that a video is circulating in which a man claims he is in Canada seeking an opportunity to murder Aasia. Please ask the Lord to protect her and her family.
Over a week after the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of Aasia Bibi on blasphemy charges, she remains confined in a locked room and is being prevented from leaving Pakistan to join her daughters in Canada, where they have been granted asylum.
Quoting Aman Ullah, who spoke to Aasia Bibi by telephone yesterday, Aljazeera reported that she is frustrated and frightened, uncertain of when she will be able to leave Pakistan.
“The door opens at food time only,” said Ullah, and she is allowed to make phone calls in the morning and again at night. He said she usually calls her daughters.
Bibi’s husband is with her, he said.
We reiterate our request that you pray that Aasia and her family will now be reunited, be relocated to a place of safety and enjoy the Lord’s permanent protection.
The Pakistan Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking review of the court’s verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi on blasphemy charges.
Read a full account of the court proceedings by Dawn.
Qari Muhammad Salaam, who submitted the review petition, requested the court maintain the death sentence awarded to her by a trial court. Salaam had filed a case against Aasia Bibi and accused her of blasphemy.
The court said that the petitioner’s lawyer could not prove anything wrong with the court verdict.
Please pray that Aasia and her family will now be reunited, be relocated to a place of safety and enjoy the Lord’s permanent protection.
The Express Tribune reported on 25 January that Aasia’s daughters and their guardians have already migrated to Canada.
On 31 October 2018, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Aasia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam. Mrs Bibi, who is barred from leaving Pakistan, has been in hiding since. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and other groups organised violent protests following her acquittal, making death threats against her and the judges who had reached the verdict.
A lawyer representing a provincial cleric in Punjab who had filed the initial blasphemy charges against Mrs Bibi has petitioned the Supreme Court requesting that the judges review her acquittal. Similar reviews have taken years to process.
According to Aid to the Church in Need, Joseph Nadeem and his family, who have assisted Mrs Bibi and her husband for some years, are themselves in danger and living in hiding together with the daughters of Mrs Bibi. “Just as soon as Aasia was acquitted, we were forced to flee”, he recalls. “Aasia and her husband are currently in a place of safety, protected by the government, but we could not remain with them”, he explains. Ever since then Mr Nadeem and his family, together with the daughters of Aasia, have had to keep on the move, changing homes four times so far.
Several countries have offered asylum to Mrs Bibi and her family, but some Brtish newspapers have claimed that British Prime Minister Theresa May refused an appeal by Home Secretary Sajid Javid to offer Mrs Bibi and her family asylum in the UK. They allege that the request was turned down by the Prime Minister over fears that it could stir up tensions among British Muslims and compromise the safety of British officials in Islamabad. During Prime Minister’s Questions, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith asked the Prime Minister if there was any truth to the reports. She replied that he ‘should not necessarily believe everything he reads in the papers’ and insisted that Britain was working for the ‘safety and security’ of Mrs Bibi and her family. Rehman Chishti resigned as Conservative Party Vice Chairman and the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Pakistan, citing Britain’s failure to offer asylum to Mrs Bibi as one of the reasons.