Islamist protesters blocked roads in Pakistan’s major cities, opposing a Supreme Court decision to acquit Asia Bibi for blasphemy allegations. “They all three deserve to be killed,” TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri told a protest in Lahore. “Either their security, their driver, or their cook should kill them.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has received official pledges of a six-billion-dollar loan to his country from Saudi Arabia, whose top leadership is involved in an international crisis of credibility over possible involvement in the killing of a Saudi dissident. Saudi Arabia pledged three billion dollars in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to another three billion dollars in deferred payments for oil imports, to Pakistan, the Pakistani government announced in a statement on Tuesday.
“Blasphemy!” someone shouted, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan. In that instant, with one word, Asia Bibi’s fate was sealed.
“It’s almost impossible not to be moved by the real-life plight of this Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death . . . a must-read.” –“Blackpool Gazette”
According to Bibi’s autobiography ‘Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water’ the incident began when she went to retrieve a cup of water from a well during a hot day of fruit picking. “Now the water is unclear and we can’t drink it! Because of her!” the woman said. Several women called Bibi a “filthy Christian” and told her to convert to Islam.
A leading Pakistani women’s rights campaigner was detained for nearly nine hours after landing in Islamabad Friday, activists said, sparking an outcry amid fears the space for dissent is shrinking. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) detained Gulalai Ismail on her return from the United Kingdom, Ismat Shahjahan, another activist who went to pick her up at Islamabad’s airport.
Farooq Haider Khan, the prime minister of the Azad Kashmir region controlled by Pakistan, said his civilian helicopter was fired upon by Indian army from across the “Line of Control”, which acts as a de facto border between the two countries.
“The Indian army fired to show that Pakistan had violated their airspace,” Farooq Haider Khan’s office said in a statement, but added “when the firing took place, we were within our own airspace.”
Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa began a three-day visit to China on Sunday, Pakistan’s military said, days after a Pakistani minister stirred unease about Chinese Silk Road projects in the South Asian nation. “During the visit COAS will interact with various Chinese leaders including his counterpart,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesman, tweeted late on Sunday.
U.S. President Donald Trump must recognize that getting his way across the subcontinent could bring down a fragile edifice, one that has been propped up by delicate presidential balancing acts since the days of the Truman administration. The problem, of course, is that Trump’s clear tilt toward India will hardly halt Pakistan’s continued drift toward neighboring China and Russia.
India will likely be unsettled by the news its arch-nemesis Pakistan is being tipped to become the fifth largest nuclear power in the world. US researchers have branded the development “concerning.” “This development has created considerable concern in other countries, including the United States, which fears that it lowers the threshold for nuclear use in a military conflict with India,” the ‘Pakistani nuclear forces 2018’ report reads.