Prison officials have transferred Asia Bibi, the 45-year-old Christian mother of five, condemned to death under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, to a secure cell at Sheikphura prison to protect her from assassination attempts.
According to a story published by EWTN News (http://ewtnnews.com), her husband, Ashiq Masih, explained that because Asia was in constant danger of being attacked, prison and government officials decided to increase security for her protection.
Ashiq told Fides news service (www.fides.org) that his wife was transferred to her own personal cell and is now guarded 24/7 by two prison guards and two security cameras.
Her food is also thoroughly inspected to avoid the risk of poisoning.
Asia “is still sad and concerned about her children, her husband said. “I told her she should trust in God” and assured her that “we are doing everything possible to ensure her released.
“I also told her that all Christians and people of good will in Pakistan will be praying for her on the day for peace on Jan. 30,” her husband said.
The Church in Pakistan has set aside Sunday, Jan. 30 as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in the country.
The Masihi Foundation, which is providing legal assistance to the Bibi family noted that though officials have increased security, Asia “will only be completely safe when she can leave the country.”
Bibi has been in the Sheikphura prison for a year and a half.
Threat on the life of Shahbaz Bhatti
|Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia Bibi, and his daughters Sidra (2R) and Esham submit their application to Shahbaz Bhatti to work on her behalf|
In a separate story, Fides is reporting that terrorist organizations in Pakistan are preparing an attack to eliminate Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Religious Minorities.
The alarm was issued to Fides by the “All Pakistan Minorities Alliance” (APMA), the network that unites religious minorities in Pakistan, of which the Minister is the founder and president.
In the note sent to Fides, APMA reports information of a report by the Pakistani Secret Service which says it is “deeply concerned by the latest news circulating about the organization of an imminent attack on the Minister, who has become the number one target because of his commitment to the abolition of the blasphemy law. Those close to the Minister need to protect him and ask the State to afford the Minister maximum protection.”
|A Laskar-e-Toiba member|
Minister Bhatti had already received a “death sentence” from the powerful terrorist organization “Laskar-e-Toiba”. Now the new information confirms that the militants are actually implementing a plan to put him to death.
“Pray for me and for my life. I am a man who has burnt his bridges. I can not and will not go back on this commitment. I will fight fanaticism and fight in defence of Christians to the death,” Minister Bhatti told Fides.
Fides sources in Pakistan deplore the fact that the ruling party, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – which chose and invited Minister Bhatti into the executive – “is not openly aligning itself with Bhatti and defending the Minister, as it is being place under pressure by lobbies from fundamentalist Islamic parties.”
“The PPP,” the Fides source continues, “is leaving too much space to the fanatics in society: its leadership believes that his political survival depends in keeping the militant religious right happy. However, in doing so, the party is losing its traditional nature: moderate, secular, popular and pluralistic.”