Pakistani Lawyers smashing a police car in protest to former President of Lahore Bar Association being accused of raping and murdering a Christian girl of 11 years.
British Asian Christian Association believes a large number of persecuted Christians that we are supporting are suffering the ignominy of extended lengths of time between hearings and unfathomable postponements to their detriment.
Our belief is that the majority of these delays are a consequence of a fear of retribution from judgements that would go in the favour of Pak-Christians, discrimination by judges holding to a biased Islamic view of the laws and external political manoeuvres that should have no impact on an independent judiciary.
A further recent concern is hard evidence that legal practitioners believe that their fraternity is above the law, a diabolical stance that has manifested in Lawyers strikes that have disabled the judicial process in recent weeks and left the many Christians we are supporting with a raft of unnecessary court deferments. This element of the delays does affect all Pakistani citizens however and is not an example of discrimination but a woeful set of morals.
The lawyers strike began due to an argument between the lawyers fraternity and doctors fraternity in Punjab after one lawyer argued that members of the legal fraternity and their families deserved preferential treatment (read NYtimes article click here). This led to lawyers smashing and vandalising the The Institute of Cardiology in Lahore on 11th December 2019. After police made a number of arrests of solicitors the Punjab Bar Council declared a strike on 16th December 2019 for an indefinite period until the arrested lawyers are released without charge - despite three patients having died in the lawyer attacks. Only days later after Ex-strongman President Musharraf was given a death sentence in a Special Court for suspending the country's constitution in 2007, lawyers in Khyber Pakthunkwa also weighed in with a strike. Their angst stemmed from criticism of the decision by Pakistan's military (click here).
It should be noted that lawyer riots and strikes are not unusual and BACA reflects on the tragedy of Shazia Bashir a minor who was raped and murdered by a former Lahore Bar Association Chairman. Incensed by any accusation against a member of the legal fraternity 300 Lawyers stormed the courts and smashed it to bits in a disgusting act of vandalism (click here). They also smashed Police cars and threatened the family of Shazia Bashir who later had to accept a compensation arrangement after judges altered the facts of her case. In this case the rioting and strikes were directly affecting a Christian family's right for a fair trial for the rape and murder of their daughter.
Reasons for the high frequency of postponements include:
Indefinite holidays taken up by judges and no process for cases to be taken up by substitutes.
Opposition lawyers failing to be prepared for court cases and being given several opportunities to delay the court process without any solid reason .
One judge stating that to give a decision in favour of a Christian victim would be offensive to his Islamic principles (read paragraph on Zafar Bhatti later in this article)
In the case of Asia Bibi, Supreme Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman refused to preside over her case because he had already presided over the murder case of Salmaan Taseer. Using this 'conflict of interest' as an excuse to extricate himself on a case he was to frightened to preside over resulting in widespread condemnation. Strangely he had known about the case for months yet said nothing earlier and resigned from his position two weeks after his decision (click here).
BACA believe that often the delays are quite deliberate and provide an opportunity for the opposing parties being acquitted of murder and rape charges, by coercing the Pak-Christian victims into accepting a bribe as compensation. The constant failure to gain any progress in their pursuit of justice results in Christians often succumbing to the demands of aggressors, for fear of attacks on loved ones and that they will eventually lose a rock solid case through corruption.
BACA believe that often judges will be receiving bribes especially from wealthy and powerful families involved in the persecution of the undesirable Christian victims.
BACA is also concerned that Christians can wait up to twenty times longer than Muslims to attain justice or an acquittal from false allegations. When Veena Malik a Pakistani actress was given a 26 year blasphemy sentence and large fine she was able to get an appeal date in 2 weeks. However, after a strong legal team figured out the conviction in Gilgit would only be enacted there she was able to quit the province shared by India and Pakistan and relocate to another part of Pakistan with no consequence (click here). A Christian in Gilgit would no doubt have been imprisoned for years before any release on appeal.
It is clear to BACA that competing factions in the judiciary, army and political sphere have laid waste to any sense of justice and equality in a nation that is steeped in corruption and avarice. Sadly the biggest victims are the minorities of Pakistan of which Christians are a notable social underclass and too often victims of the legal process. For those Christians embroiled in any legal case in Pakistan justice is a rare commodity and BACA calls for immediate reforms of the laws and judiciary to alter a disturbing trajectory towards an exclusion of minority rights. Moreover, their must be an immediate termination of current protections of those with higher social status who are inevitably able to circumvent the law.
Read more here:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan to resolve the ongoing malaise within the legal process and judiciary of Pakistan that has destroyed many Christian lives.
We call for an immediate end to the 'above the law status' of high status individuals in Pakistan.
We call for rioting lawyers to be prosecuted for their crimes and disbarred permanently from working as legal practitioners.
We call for the freedom for Pak-Christian lawyers who wish to work during strikes to help free beleaguered Christians not be threatened by judges for failing to observe ridiculous protests they do not agree with.
We call for a judiciary that has substitutes available to cover holidays and for the practice of indefinite holidays to be abolished like in other spheres of employment.
We call for the immediate termination of loose practices of deferment without provision of mitigating circumstance.
We also call for an investigation into allegations of bribery of the judiciary and alleged delay to force minority Christians to accept bribes in lieu of justice.
The Stop persecuting Christians through legal bias in Pakistan petition to PM Imran Khan of Pakistan was written by Admin Person and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.