Following years of silence, at last there is a glimmer of hope for Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who has languished on death row following her 2010 conviction for blasphemy.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has just announced that Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will personally preside over Asia’s appeal against her conviction and death sentence.
Many see this appeal as her last chance to escape with her life.
Imprisoned since 2009, Asia has continually maintained her innocence in the face of the charges brought against her, explaining that the blasphemy claims were fabricated as punishment for her drinking water meant for Muslims’ use only.
Despite Christians comprising only two percent of Pakistan’s population and the government regularly claiming that it protects the rights of all religious minorities, violence against Christians has continued across the country.
Since mid-April this year, two churches have been attacked and two Christians have been killed and three injured by drive-by shooters.
The church attacks in Quetta did not target particular congregants, indicating that they arose out of a deeply rooted culture of religious discrimination which, despite its rhetoric, the government appears to condone rather than oppose.
This view is supported by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s 2017 annual report released in April 2018.
The report roundly criticises the government for having “failed miserably to protect minority members against attacks and discrimination” and shows that “Christians are targets for murder, bombings, abduction of women, rape, forced conversions, and eviction from home and country” and “fake cases under blasphemy laws are regularly used to terrorize Christians” (as exemplified in Asia Bibi’s case), while “extremist forces bent on creating an exclusive Islamic identity for Pakistan appear to have been given a free hand.”
HOME GROUP PRAYER
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV.
We come before you, LORD God, united in prayer for all your children in Pakistan, and for the situation of our sister in Christ, Asia Bibi.
We thank you, LORD, for answered prayers and for this opportunity which you have provided for Asia to be heard and for justice to prevail in her appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Father, in this matter we lift up to you Pakistan’s Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and we pray that you will open his eyes and mind to the truth regarding Asia’s persecution and wrongful conviction and that you will open his heart to provide the same justice and mercy which you would deliver.
We also lift up to you Asia’s family and her children, who have been motherless for the last nine years.
We pray that your love, grace and mercy will be abundantly poured out over them all and that their faith in you be strengthened daily.
Father, we also lift up to you the families of Azhar Iqbal (28) and Rahid Khalid (19), who were killed in drive-by shootings last month.
We lift up the families of those who have been injured in shootings and attacks on Christians in Pakistan.
We pray, LORD, that you will touch and heal all the injured and all their family members and that those who have lost their homes will be soon rehoused.
As persecution of Christians continues in Pakistan, we pray, LORD, that you will continue to strengthen their faith, that they may continue to stand, rooted in you.
Finally, Father, we pray for all the leaders and government officials in Pakistan, that they may come to know you as we know you, and that they will very soon come to learn to lead Pakistan in love and justice, according to your will.
Thank you, ABBA Father, for hearing our prayer. Amen!
Materials used by kind permission of the original author.