Religious parties warn of anarchy if Aasiya pardoned | Pakistan Today

Religious parties warn of anarchy if Aasiya pardoned

LAHORE: Islamist religious parties threatened protests and anarchy if the government pardons the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, calling thousands of demonstrators onto the streets across the country in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Lahore on Friday.
Demonstrators marched across the country after the most influential Sunni Muslim alliance in the country urged the government not to grant mother-of-five Aasiya Bibi clemency. In Lahore, a crowd of several hundred called for “Jihad” and pledged to sacrifice their lives to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), an AFP reporter said.
The rally was organised by a subsidiary of banned charity Jamaatud Dawa, which the United Nations has blacklisted as a terrorist organisation. “We will hold nationwide protests if the government pardons the Christian woman,” the subsidiary’s chief coordinator, Qari Yaqub, told participants.
Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Aasiya, who was sentenced on November 8 to hang under the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. “The pardon will lead to anarchy in the country,” the head of the Sunni Ittehad Council, Sahibzada Fazal Kareem, told AFP.
“Our stand is very clear that this punishment cannot be waived,” he said. But Farhatullah Babar, spokesman for Zardari, hinted on Friday that the Presidency would instead wait for Aasiya’s appeal in the Lahore High Court. “The summary for a pardon has not yet been received from the prime minister.
It is also premature as a sentence awarded by a session (court) cannot be implemented until it is endorsed by a high court,” Babar said. Most of those convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan have their sentences
overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts.

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