London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) Fears that Zafar Bhatti (55 yrs), Pakistan’s longest serving blasphemy convict could be the first ever to be lynched heightened after a judge increased his sentence from life imprisonment to death on 3rd January 2022 (click here)
Judge Sahibzada Naqeeb Shehzad, of Sessions Court Rawalpindi made this ruling despite clear physical and electronic evidence of the innocence of Zafar Bhatti.
forensic evidence exists for any blasphemy by Zafar Bhatti, in fact every piece of physical and electronic evidence suggests he is innocent. Zafar Bhatti however was convicted based on an unsubstantiated report declaring his guilt, made by police in the early stages of their investigation. During that investigation Zafar Bhatti states he was coerced into a false investigation under a brutal police interrogation.
Zafar Bhatti could still be killed any day under the terms of his blasphemy conviction under Section 295C of the Blasphemy law of Pakistan.
We wrote recently about our success in appointing Pakistan’s most successful blasphemy Law solicitor for Zafar Bhatti.
Advocate Saif-ul- Malook has filed an application for bail for Zafar Bhatti:
In a detailed meeting with Saif Ul Malook at his office on 24th September, Mr Malook informed our Operations Manager that he has obtained the list books of the case, two large volumes to be exact. Mr Malook has studied every bit of the case notes and has now filed a bail application at the office of the court registrar in Rawalpindi and he now expects that a date for an appeal hearing for Zafar Bhatti will be fixed before December. Mr Malook, said:
“It’s the first time in my career that I am declaring even before prosecuting a case in court that Zafar will be released very soon”
“All I am waiting is a date to be fixed for a hearing – we have a very strong case.”
We have shared this good news with Zafar Bhatti during our last visit to Adiala jail on 20th October.
Zafar Bhatti was happy to hear this news. He said,
“I have been very impressed during my meetings with Saif-ul-Malook.
“He is more confodent and seems more knowledgeable about the law than any of the previous solicitors that have advocated for me.
“British Asian Christian Association have brought me such good news and I believe God will free me from my shackles just as he set Paul free.
“I have always known God loves me and I have always believed that He has never forsaken me”
Zafar’s has had problems with his health since our previous visit in September. He informed us that he has been hospitalized in the jail medical unit for lung infection. The weather has changed in Rawalpindi and he has no warm clothes. He has asked for us to purchase him warmer clothes to cope with the deteriorating weather.
Earlier in the year on 8th September Nawab Bibi (73 yrs) called our field officer in Lahore and informed him about a severe chest infection, that had been debilitating for her. Our officer travelled to her and took he to a local hospital where she was given antibiotics to stem the severe cough she had for over 2 months. Normal cough mixtures and other medicines had had no effect but since treatment her health improved. Nawab Bibi said:
“I could not sleep for many nights.
“I tried so many medicines but none of them gave me any relief.
“I could not breathe properly and the pain was extremely severe.
“At my age it was a very difficult moment, but I thank God for getting me through.”
Nawab Bibi nursed to recovery at the home of our Operations Manager
While receiving treatment Nawab Bibi stayed at the home of our Operations Manager to spend time with his family. She was feeling alone and was struggling with doing mundane house chores and asked for the company. On 2nd October she was taken to Mr Malook’s office in Lahore. Nawab Bibi talked to him in detail about his husband’s case and Saif Ul Malook assured her that Zafar will be released from prison soon.
After she got better, Nawab Bibi cooked for Zafar Bhatti. Our BACA team travelled with her to Adiala Jail as always and met with Zafar Bhati who was also delighted to see his wife who he had sorely missed during her illness. BACA supplied him with the regular grocery items we have been providing him with monthly and told him the good news about Mr Malook’s submission to the court.
Now the couple await a date for the appeal and both they and the BACA are very hopeful that a positive outcome will be delivered at the next court hearing. Even than we call for prayer for Zafar Bhatti who has already spent over 10 years in a Pakistani jail over a false allegation of blasphemy.
British Asian Christian Association, spends hundreds a month on this couple and are still required to pay a further £4000 to Mr Malook the appointed solicitor. Mr Malook visits the UK to receive an award for his outstanding effort to help Christians and other blasphemy victims. We are not able to do this work without your help and still have to raise a significant amount of money to ensure Zafar gets the best legal defence possible. Please help us continue this work by donating (here)
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“We took over the case of Zafar Bhatti just over a year ago and are working hard to ensure he is set free.
“Zafar has been in jail for much too long, especially when you consider there has never been a solid case for him to answer to.
“It is outrageous that Pakistan has continued to maintain such an outlandish law.
“If God is divine why do we need man made laws to protect him, He can have his retribution at any time?
“Many Islamic scholars themselves conclude that no koranic justification exists for blasphemy laws – yet Pakistan persists with some of the harshest of such laws.
“Though Pakistan is in a period of prolonged democratic rule and seems less prone to Military oups, the country’s mindset remains the same – radical!
“We pray for a better future for the nation, one on which minorities are accepted and cherished.”