A MOTHER of two has had her seven years on death row extended after a judge refused to hear her final appeal.
Asia Bibi, 50, was set to have her final appeal against her death sentence for speaking to a Muslim heard today by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
But the judge said there was a possible conflict of interest because he was involved in a related case and adjourned the case, without setting a date for another hearing.
Hundreds of riot police had been stationed outside the court in Islamabad in anticipation of the verdict.
Mrs Bibi has been on death row in Punjab since she was accused of blasphemy for getting into a disagreement with a Muslim woman seven years ago.
The two women were working in a field when the Muslim woman refused water from Mrs Bibi from the well on the grounds it was unclean because it had been handled by a Christian. But Mrs Bibi defended herself, saying Jesus would have had a different view on the situation.
Her lawyer, Khalil Tahir Sindhu, said: “She has not seen the sun or the moon this year.”
Mrs Bibi’s husband warned her daughters not to go outside for fear they would be killed
Mr Sindhu said despite the death sentence Ms Bibi has resisted multiple attempts to convert to Islam while she has been incarcerated.
She is likely to be hanged within 30 days of the verdict if her last appeal fails.
Mr Sindhu said: “She is very, very strong in her faith. There were so many attempts to convert her but she said ‘No – I will remain faithful to Jesus Christ’ and she has remained faithful.”
In 2010 two prominent Pakistani politicians were assassinated after they publicly defended Mrs Bibi and the lawyer has faced threats for defending his client.
Mr Sindhu said: “Pray for her and pray for me because anything could happen to me. But I’m ready to pay the price and I’m carrying the cross.”
Mrs Bibi’s daughters Esham, 18, and Esha, 17, have travelled twice a month to visit their mother in Multan Jail ever since she was first imprisoned.
Esham said: “We talk to our mama about the things at home. I share my thoughts with her, like mother-daughter stuff.”
She added the visits begin joyfully but end each time with grief. She said: “She becomes sad… her daughters come to meet her from such a long distance and she cannot even hug them.”
Esha, who suffers from mental and physical disabilities, currently lives with their father Ashiq Masih along with her sister Esham. In the wake of the assassinations of the politicians who defended Mrs Bibi the family were forced to stay indoors, living in fear for their lives.
Esham said: “Papa used to tell me not to go out, the situation out there is very bad. We used to stay inside all the time. Someday someone will come and ask me, ‘Are you the daughter of Asia Bibi?'”
Mr Masih has said that even if his wife is released, there is a bounty on her head so their lives could never return to how they once were. Thousands have protested against her and said they would kill her if she were ever released – including the imam in her own village.