U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is urging President Trump to “personally intervene” in the case of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi and cut off aid to the Muslim-majority nation if it doesn’t allow Bibi to come to the United States.
The Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted Bibi earlier this month of “blasphemy” against Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, after spending eight years on death row. But the Pakistani government struck a deal with the extremist TLP party to put her on the no-fly list in exchange for stopping mass demonstrations calling for Bibi’s death.
Paul pointed out in an op-ed published by Breitbart News he has introduced legislation “to directly go after Pakistan’s foreign aid and turn up the pressure on them to release Asia Bibi and stop persecuting religious minorities.”
“Until Asia Bibi is freed, Pakistan should not receive a penny of U.S. aid! Not one penny should go to any nation that persecutes or kills Christians!”
Before boarding Marine One on the way to Florida, President Trump told reporters he’s already cut off the $1.3 billion a year given to Pakistan “because they’re not helping us at all.”
Paul said he’s “made it a personal mission of mine in office to stop the United States from funding or being allied with places that persecute Christians.”
In 2014, he proposed legislation to stop foreign aid to any country that gives the death penalty or life in prison to Christians for religious choices. But both Republicans and Democrats voted to continue the funding, he said.
“I can assure you this wouldn’t be the result if we let Americans vote on it,” the senator said.
Paul said Trump “has the chance to both fix a huge human rights problem while attacking the D.C. foreign policy swamp that loves foreign aid more than nearly anything else.”
“Asia Bibi deserves asylum in the United States. She deserves real freedom,” he said. “And Americans deserve to know their tax dollars aren’t being sent to subsidize a country’s war on Christianity.”
Earlier this month, as WND reported, an advocate for Bibi in the United Kingdom said the British government turned her down because her entry would cause unrest among Muslims and pose a security threat to British embassies in the Muslim world.
Bibi is still in prison in Punjab province even though the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered her release Oct. 31 after overturning her 2010 conviction.
The Trump administration, wrote M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy in a tweet, “has an opportunity to not only do what’s right and humane for Asia Bibi but change the immigration narrative re dissidents.”
Ayan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born critic of Islam known as an advocate for the rights of Muslim women, tweeted, “If Britain won’t offer Asia Bibi asylum, Trump should.”
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government was holding talks with Pakistan over the possibility of offering asylum to Bibi.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which fought for Bibi’s freedom for more than four years, has declined to comment regarding the White House’s response to the asylum appeal. ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, President Trump’s personal lawyer, was a key advocate for American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from a Turkish prison last month.
Deal with radicals
The Oct. 31 acquittal of Bibi provoked violent protests led by the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party, whose leaders called for the judges responsible for the verdict to be killed along with Bibi. In response, the government struck a deal with the Islamic extremists, who agreed to stop the protests in exchange for barring Bibi from leaving the country.
Bibi’s lawyer Saif Mulook has left Pakistan, fearing for his life.
Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband, who is in Britain, released a video message saying he feared for his family’s safety.
He appealed to “the Prime Minister of the U.K. help us and as far as possible grant us freedom.”
Earlier this month, he posted a video appealing also to the leaders of the United States and Canada to help his wife and other family members to leave Pakistan safely.
‘Appeasement only provides oxygen’
While no one has been executed by the Pakistani government for blasphemy, at least 65 people accused of the “crime” have been murdered by Muslim vigilantes since 1990.
Bibi’s problems began when Muslim co-workers refused to drink water from a cup from which she had taken a sip and demanded she convert to Islam. Her refusal prompted a mob to later allege she had insulted Muhammad. She was convicted in 2010 under section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code that punishes blasphemy against Islam’s prophet with the death penalty. She was sentenced to execution by hanging.
The Supreme Court ruled, however, that the basis of the blasphemy charge was a “concocted” story.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said Monday, according to the U.S. that the mission “continues to follow the case closely.”
CNS News noted that since 2006, the government has engaged in various agreements to appease TLP that have ended in failure, including withdrawing troops from certain areas, pardoning terrorists and allowing Shariah, or Islamic law, zones.
Chowdhry said in a statement on his group’s website that he’s not surprised the Pakistani government “has caved in to extremists – this is a commonly recurring socio-political trend in Pakistan.”
“Politicians have historically been hijacked by either the extremist groups within the nation or the military, this situation is simply the status quo as far as I am concerned,” he said.
In a column Sunday in the Karachi daily Dawn, security analyst Muhammad Amir Rana wrote: “State appeasement only provides oxygen to extremist groups, increasing their bargaining power.”