Landmark pardon for Christian woman on death row sparks optimism in Pakistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan/ Aasia Bibi
Support us and go ad-free

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has overturned a death-penalty verdict for Christian farm worker Asia Bibi. This landmark decision undermines blasphemy laws in the country. And the outcome has been hailed far and wide as positive:


This ‘victory’ is bittersweet for many Pakistanis. Because the country has been fighting an uphill battle against violent conservative groups, particularly since the US-led military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Hardliners in Pakistani politics have also gained momentum, adding their voice in support of harsher punishments for blasphemy.

In 2011, Salman Taseer (then-governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province) and minister Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated. Both, allegedly, for their public support of Asia Bibi:


Following news of the ruling, conservative Muslim groups in Pakistan issued calls to protest. Some groups, including the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), also incited violence against the judges who carried out the ruling:

Panic around public order, meanwhile, caused nationwide disruption:

The prime minister speaks out against protesters

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan warned against potential threats to public order:

Many people have hailed his speech as a step forward in the face of religious dogma and violence:

Muslim backing for the decision

Support for the Supreme Court decision, however, does not stem from secularist sentiment. Rather, many Pakistanis have expressed religious Muslim sentiments in support of the verdict. Because many feel the decision is more in keeping with Islamic principles of justice than the original death-penalty verdict:

The future

Of course, it goes without saying that there’s still much work to be done:

But this doesn’t change the fact that, at this historic moment, the nation’s mood is defined by hope:

It’s difficult to overstate the significance of Asia Bibi’s pardon in a very religiously conservative Pakistan. Though it may only be one step, it is in the right direction. And many Pakistanis are hopeful that this single step could be the one that begins a journey of a thousand miles.

Get Involved!

– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via Twitter/Flickr

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us

Comments are closed