Although friends in Pakistan clearly stated they wish to pursue this case by prioritising local pressure and working through the Pakistani legal system, local groups have however requested that international friends remain ready to launch an alert for action should the need arise. Pakistani women’s, human rights and lawyers’ groups have mobilised around the case. At this point they are prioritising local pressure and working through the Pakistani legal system as their strategy.
Dr. Younus Shaikh, a peace activist and founder of the Progressive group 'Enlightenment', was a teacher at the Capital Medical College for Homeopathy, Islamabad. He was arrested on 5th October 2000 by the Islamabad police and charged under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. All petitions for bail were rejected by the Lower and High Courts. On 24 July 2001 the Multan Bench of Lahore High Court confirmed the death sentence of Ayub Masih, a Christian, in a blasphemy case. Ayub Masih of Arifwala, Distt. Sahiwal (Southern Punjab) was arrested on 14 October, 1996 on the charge of passing derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad. The appeal in one case is currently being heard while in the other case the appeal has already been turned down at the High Court level. It is therefore of the utmost urgence that all friends respond now to place pressure on the Pakistan authorities and ensure that these precious
lives are not lost.
A booklet which aims to break the cycle of impunity in cases of honour killings by clarifying common misconceptions about the law and by providing information on some basic aspects of the law and the operation of the legal machinery in Pakistan as it relates to murder.
Dr Shaikh has been in prison since October 2000. The death sentence, mandatory under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, was pronounced against him on 18 August 2001, and he has been in a death cell since then, with little personal contact with the outside world.