Published: 10:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 22 March 2011
Stand with condemned Pakistani Christian mother
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
“...the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair” Isaiah 61:3
Will you stand with us as we pray for Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian and mother of five who is currently on death row in Pakistan?
In 2010 Aasia Bibi, a Christian farm worker from Punjab, was falsely accused of insulting Muhammad, which is a criminal offence in Pakistan and carries a mandatory death penalty. She was prosecuted and convicted after a trial.
Human rights lawyers question the impartiality and independence of the criminal proceedings that resulted in Aasia's conviction and the quality of the evidence upon which her guilt was established. An appeal has been lodged before the Lahore High Court, but we are uncertain regarding the progress of her appeal. If it fails, Aasia Bibi will be executed in November 2011.
Two leading Pakistani politicians (one Muslim, the other Christian) who have sought to highlight the miscarriage of injustice suffered by Aasia have been shot dead. First the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was murdered in January, and more recently Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani Cabinet Minister responsible for the protection of minority rights in Pakistan, was killed in Islamabad on 2 March.
This violence highlights the vulnerable position Aasia Bibi is in as she remains in prison awaiting execution. It should also serve to stir within us (her brothers and sisters in Christ) a deep desire to pray for her. In Hebrews 13:3 we are commanded to "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, writing in The Times on 7 March, described the current situation in Pakistan as one "of deepening tragedy that urgently needs prayer and action". For us as Christians, action starts with prayer.
Let us stand together with Aasia and pray for:
- her safety
- her release from prison
- her family, who are in hiding for fear of their lives
Please also pray for wisdom and courage for the government of Pakistan as they seek to bring to justice all those responsible for this current wave of violence.
Many people may feel moved to write to the Pakistani authorities to plead for justice and respect for human rights in Aasia's case. This is best done by contacting the Pakistani High Commission or Embassy in your country.
His Excellency Wajid Shamsul Hasan
The High Commission for Pakistan
34-36 Lowndes Square
London SW1X 9JN
His Excellency Ambassador Husain Haqqani
Pakistan Embassy to the United States
3517 International Court Northwest
His Excellency Tasawar Khan
High Commission for Pakistan
PO Box 684
Mawson ACT 2607
His Excellency Syed Ibne Abbas
High Commission for Pakistan
182 Onslow Road