LAHORE – Pervaiz Masih, a Pakistani Christian, was arrested in 2015 on charges of blaspheming the Muslim prophet Mohammed. In an unusual turn of events, he was released on bail after serving only 20 days in prison. On January 15th a district court ruled in favor of his acquittal.
Pervaiz is an independent contractor who, in 2015, secured a job that a Muslim contractor had hoped to be granted. After being awarded the contract, the two men became embroiled in an argument. Unbeknownst to Pervaiz, the other contractor sought guidance from the leaders of his local mosque. Several days later, he learned that he had been charged with blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.
While the news has been greeted with joy by fellow Christians, those in Pakistan know all too well that “Justice is relative in Pakistan and is nearly always soured by the desire for community retribution.” At least at that level, Pervaiz’ case is much like that of Asia Bibi who, although acquitted, remains in hiding from local mobs who will not accept the court’s decision.
He and his family had already moved away from their home and family for their own safety after he was released on bail. The Pakistan Christian Post has said that “No justice will ever come for Pervaiz and his wife, Zareena.”
Zareena was badly beaten by the mob that was searching for Pervaiz with the intent to lynch him prior to his arrest. She has since been unable to walk with her back straight.
Fellow Christians were so intimidated by the mobs that they temporarily fled their homes and villages. When they returned, they discovered that their properties had been vandalized and plundered.
During his initial 20 days in jail, Pervaiz learned that his three-year-old daughter had fallen into a dug well and died. The family later learned that friends of Pervaiz’ accuser had killed her and had sent a message that other family members could meet the same fate.
Immediately after his release on bail, he went to his accuser to ask his forgiveness. However, his accuser said, “There would be no forgiveness for blasphemy against Mohammed – only death.”
On a positive note, the British Pakistani Christian Association reported that “Today’s verdict is the first time in Pakistan’s history that an exoneration occurred at district court level, where session court judges are prone to capitulation to the whims of incensed mobs.” The association added that the acquittal was cause for celebration but warned believers about the danger of becoming complacent.
There are currently about 18 other Christians being held in Pakistani prisons under charges of blasphemy.
To read more news on Pakistan on Missions Box, go here.
- Sight Magazine, Pakistani Christian acquitted of blasphemy
- UCA News, Christian man faces blasphemy accusations in Pakistan
- Pakistan Christian Post, Pervaiz Masih Set Free from His Blasphemy charges on 15th January 2019
- British Pakistani Christian Association, Innocent Pak-Christian man accused of blasphemy due to business rivalry acquitted after 3.5 years
- Max0205, Pakistan Christian Congress Flag (Wikimedia Commons)