Injustice Unveiled: The Ordeal of Nabeel Masih – From Youthful Imprisonment to the Looming Threat of Reimprisonment in Pakistan


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) Fear looms over Nabeel Masih, who was the youngest prisoner of blasphemy in Pakistan ever, as he faces the looming threat of punishment and re-arrest. Despite the clear denial by the Home Department to grant permission to prosecute the case, the court has exceeded its procedural powers by unlawfully deleting a section framed in the charge sheet.

Terrified of being re-arrested, Nabeel Masih implores for prayers and for a global voice to advocate on his behalf.

In response to this injustice, BACA’s Solicitor Naseeb Anjum has filed a writ petition at the Lahore High Court against the order of the trial court.

After a series of unproductive court sessions following Nabeel Masih’s release on bail on 1st March 2021, the District Court Pattoki made an unjust decision on 14th February 2024 to delete section 295-A from his original charge sheet while retaining section 295, thus allowing him to be prosecuted. Naseeb Anjum, the counsel for Nabeel Masih, asserts that this order is both unlawful and unfair, as the trial court has overstepped its procedural bounds by removing a section from the already framed charge.

Anjum states, “This action constitutes a clear violation of the law, as the trial court lacks the authority to review its judgment and alter a framed charge.” Furthermore, the decision to dismiss our applications for acquittal and permission for Nabeel Masih’s absence from court proceedings is biased and reflects the judge’s Islamic sentiments.”

Upon learning of the judge’s unlawful order, Mr Anjum promptly filed a writ petition at the higher court. Following a court hearing on Saturday, 17th February, he also applied for a certified copy of the trial court file. However, despite being instructed to collect it on Monday, 19th February,  upon arrival at the court Mr Anjum discovered that the judge had not signed a copy of the case file, due to her absence.  The judge did not return to the court till Wednesday 21st February. Mr Anjum believes this delay in receiving the certified copy by 21st February was intended to hinder the filing of a writ petition promptly.

During the hearing on 26th February, Judge Zunaira Zafar recorded the statement of the primary complainant, Muhammad Akhtar, and scheduled the next hearing for 28th February. The judge also ordered the retrieval of the records of phone calls for the complainant and Nabeel Masih from the court file. While Ms Zafar deliberated Mr Anjum filed a writ petition for the revision of the order at the court of Sessions Pattoki.

Nabeel Masih shared his harrowing experience of the hearing on 26th February, stating, “The courtroom was filled with supporters of the complainant and many lawyers were present. My heart was pounding with fear, dreading an attack at any moment.” Despite this, he expressed gratitude for his safety, stating, “But I am thankful to the Lord for keeping me safe.”

The order issued by the trial court has intensified our concerns regarding Nabeel Masih’s freedom. He is overcome with fear and seeks prayers from believers around the world. He stated, “I am afraid that the judge may pass a judgment against me. I know I am innocent of the charges framed against me. I was very hopeful of my acquittal, but the recent judgment has plunged me into deep fear.”

British Asian Christian Association has been dedicated to providing care and legal advocacy for Nabeel Masih since 2018. In undertaking to offer a safe house, training, and ongoing support for his acquittal, our organization incurs significant costs amounting to thousands of pounds each year. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our donors, whose support makes this crucial work possible. You too can contribute to our efforts by donating (here).

Juliet Chowdhry, a trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:

“Nabeel has been burdened with a life filled with fear and uncertainty ever since he was wrongly accused of blasphemy.

“Despite the absence of any concrete evidence, apprehensive judges persist in prolonging his suffering by repeatedly postponing his hearings and now, by permitting a trial to proceed due to deliberate procedural errors.

“It is disheartening to witness how little regard is shown for the life of an innocent Christian, as his rights are consistently disregarded.

“The rule of law in Pakistan is fractured and unjust, and Pakistani authorities must take meaningful steps towards reform if they wish to be recognized as a fair and democratic society.”

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