Asia Bibi, nee Asia Nooren, a Christian woman, was convicted on a trumped up charges foisted on her by her fellow Muslim co-workers for making derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, any person accused of making derogatory comments on the Prophet (SAW) is punishable by a death sentence. This clause was inserted in the blasphemy law in 1986, by the late Pakistan military ruler Zia ul Haq. It was Zia who is responsible for destroying the secular credentials of his country. Based on a complaint filed by her co-workers the police promptly arrested her, after conducting a sham investigation. The trial court upheld the charges on her based on the blasphemy law. On an appeal filed by her, the Lahore High Court upheld the judgment of the trial court even though it acknowledged “possible violations of the right to a fair trial, particularly the right to an adequate defence”. The High Court’s decision was severely criticised for awarding a death sentence without holding the police responsible for the sham investigation conducted by the police. It is estimated that over 50 people have been brutally killed for making alleged derogatory comments on the Prophet (SAW). It is unfortunate the law continues to be misused to exact revenge on the persecuted religious minorities. The lawyer representing Asia Bibi filed a case in Pakistan’s Supreme Court against High Court’s order on the grounds that the judgment was based on hearsay. Furthermore, not a shred of evidence was produced in the court that his client had made any comments on Prophet Muhammad (SAW). In fact, he informed the court that the dispute was related to an argument she had with her fellow workers who refused to drink water from the container fetched by her as; they accused her of being ‘unclean’ because she was a non- Muslim. They even threatened her to convert to Islam and when she refused, they accused her for making disparaging comments on the Prophet (SAW). One can accuse Imran Khan for caving in to pressure exerted by various religious groups, but it will be patently wrong to lay all the blame on him. It should be mentioned that Imran has inherited a country that is besieged with growing intolerance and also the country is convulsed by an economic crisis The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement delivered on October 31, 2018, overturned the High Court’s order and set her free. The judges praised Asia for showing courage and determination in the face of threats on her life by various religious groups. The three-member panel ruled that her conviction was based on flimsy evidence and that the prosecution had “categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt”. They even quoted Hadith (religious text) in arriving at the decision. The judgment sparked widespread protests in all the major cities of Pakistan. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan gave a call for violence against the three judges. They did not even spare the General of the Pakistan Army and accused him of being an Ahmadi. As remarks on the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) are an emotive issue, violent protests erupted all over the country. All major cities, including Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, were brought to a standstill. The protesters urged the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the judgment. The Pakistan’s Prime Minister, who initially said that he would take action against the protesters, later buckled down, and reached an agreement with the religious groups that his government will not oppose any review petition filed by them and further he would not allow Asia Bibi to leave the country. Imran Khan’s inability to take a stand on the religious groups for flaming the passion of the people has invited world-wide criticism. He has also been accused of visiting China when the whole Pakistan was burning. It may be mentioned here that Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, also paid with his life for criticizing the blasphemy law. Although his killer was sentenced to death, but the fundamentalists declared him as a martyr and built a shrine in his honour! There is every chance that if Asia Bibi is not allowed to leave the country, she will be murdered. Her lawyer has already fled the country. Pakistan’s blasphemy law is based on abstract stipulations. Pakistan’s constitution mandates death penalty on anyone who defiles the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) name, even if “by imputation, innuendo or insinuation.” Since its introduction in 1986, “several hundred people have been charged, with a disproportionate number either non-Muslims or Ahmadis, a persecuted sect who revere both Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and a 19th-century prophet—something many other Muslims consider abominable.” Although, one can accuse Imran Khan for caving in to pressure exerted by various religious groups, but it will be patently wrong to lay all the blame on him. It should be mentioned that Imran has inherited a country that is besieged with growing intolerance and also the country is convulsed by an economic crisis. Successive governments have been using the religious organizations for vote bank politics and for their political survival. Now this open support of the fundamentalists is coming to haunt the present dispensation. Imran Khan should show courage in bringing the perpetrators of violence to book. His Federal Minister, Fawad Chaudhry, needs to be applauded for taking a stand against the religious fundamentalists. Imran should show spine by acting against the fundamentalist, otherwise there is every danger that these groups may succeed in destroying the social fabric of the country. Unlike his predecessor, Imran enjoys the unbridled support of the army and this should give him the power to take on these fundamental groups who have succeeded in creating fissures between the mainstream groups and the minorities. However, if he fails to act, it is only a matter of time when these intolerant groups will, not only bring down the government, but plunge the country into chaos The writer is an independent columnist and a political commentator Published in Daily Times, November 13th 2018.