Pakistan | Pressure On The Church After Asia Bibi's Release
On October 31, Asia Bibi's 10-year blasphemy case reached a final verdict. The charges against her were dropped and her immediate release from prison was ordered.
According to the official ruling, prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judges quoted extensively from the Quran and other Islamic scriptures saying, among other things, that non-Muslims were to be dealt with kindly.
Asia Bibi Is Still In Danger
The verdict sparked nationwide protests, led by supporters of the Islamist political party TLP. They're asking the Supreme Court to reverse their ruling, and demand that Asia Bibi be hanged. Prime Minister Khan addressed the nation in a video, warning groups against violence and criticising the protests.
Over the weekend mobile phone services were suspended, in an effort to stop protests. The country was paralysed – schools were shut, universities postponed exams, flights delayed and trains changed their routes due to the protests. Several major roads were blocked across the country.
Though free, Asia's whereabouts is unknown for her own safety.
The Five-Point Agreement
The Pakistani government announced a five-point agreement with the extremists responsible for most of the protests across the country. In the deal, it's stated that Asia is not allowed to leave the country.
Local Christians Ask For Prayer
There is immense pressure against Christians in Pakistan right now. Though extremists have ceased protests, their anger remains. Christians in Pakistan have asked Open Doors to call for prayer around the world.
Our local partner in Pakistan said, "[The extremists] want blood. We fear they will come to the churches and attack them." She continued, "We have to trust in God. He is sovereign and our King."
"Christians across Pakistan are holed up in their homes. TV provides no comfort, news is conflicting and complex on all fronts and phones are down. We are all so worried about one another. There is a huge operation against the extremists but still no assurance on Asia and her family and their future... Please be praying for safety of churches on Sunday."
Open Doors' local partners in Pakistan are sending out messages to encourage Christians. So far, they've reached 80,000 believers. The message includes scriptures, ways people can respond to the current situation, and a gospel song.
- Pray for Asia Bibi and her family, for safety and God's peace.
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan who are also feeling pressure from extremists. These are three people you can pray for:
A Christian Father shared: "I waited 15 minutes. Brian is always out of school waiting at the gate. This time he took 15 minutes to come out: he was so afraid. He was hiding in his classrooms stationary cupboard. He waited till the kids were gone and then raced out to the gate. He didn’t know why school was being called off for the day but he heard the principal say 'Christian kids need to go home'... When my son goes back to school, what world will he step into?"
A female Christian teacher was thrown out of an Uber after the driver discovered she was a Christian: "I was on the phone with my husband. I ended the call with 'Jesus will keep you safe'. The phones stopped working and I couldn’t get hold of my husband and children for hours."
A Christian with a high position at a local institution was told by his superior to go home: "It was an official note that all Christians had to go home. Was it really for my safety? Or was it threat? Will I still have a job when I come back to work? I don’t know. All I could do, was have a thanksgiving meal with my family to celebrate Asia's release. I can only rejoice today. Tomorrow is in Jesus’ hands."