Family’s fury after Scot shot in Pakistani jail

Christian Pakistanis protest the country's blasphemy laws. Scot Mohammad Ashgar is currently in prison after being convicted of the crime. Picture: Getty

Christian Pakistanis protest the country's blasphemy laws. Scot Mohammad Ashgar is currently in prison after being convicted of the crime. Picture: Getty

Share this article
5
Have your say

THE family of a Scottish grandfather being held in a Pakistani prison have accused the British government of failing him, after he was shot in the back by a ­prison guard.

Mohammad Asghar, 70, from Edinburgh, was sentenced to death in January for blasphemy after his arrest in 2010 for sending a series of letters in which he claimed to be the prophet

Muhammad.

He is currently being held in Adiala Prison in Rawalpindi, where he was yesterday shot by someone understood to be a prison guard or police officer. His condition is said to be stable, but his family said they were “extremely distressed” by what had happened.

Asghar’s daughter, Jasmine, 40, said: “The British ­Embassy said they had organised extra ­security for him – how could this happen?”

“There are so many politicians involved. They all say they are doing something, but nothing has happened.

“We even wrote a letter to David Cameron and we were told he would help but nothing has happened.”

Asghar said her mother was at her father’s beside in hospital in Pakistan.

“I haven’t been able to get hold of her yet so I’m not even sure what’s happened,” she said.

“My dad’s really old and one of the friendliest people you could meet, so he wouldn’t have been violent or anything.

“There’s no way he would have provoked it.”

Reports from Pakistan suggested another man shot at the same time had died of his ­injuries.

The Foreign Office said it had raised its concerns at a “senior level”, but lawyer Aamer Anwar, who is representing Asghar’s family, said the UK government had failed his clients.

Despite Asghar having long-standing mental health problems, this was not taken into account during his trial in ­Pakistan.

He had been sectioned in Edinburgh in 2010 and was ­diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Anwar said: “[Asghar’s] family are extremely distressed at these events but they are also angry because they were given personal assurances that if they kept quiet, then Mr Asghar would be returned home safely.

“To date, the British government has failed to provide any meaningful assistance to Mr Asghar or his family. It is now too late to wait for discussions behind closed doors and other delaying tactics. Mr Asghar’s life is in the hands of the British ­government.”

Mr Anwar said he and SNP minister Humza Yousaf had met Punjab governor and former Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar in July to discuss Asghar’s case. He said the pensioner’s condition was “deteriorating rapidly” and he had been denied access to medication or a psychiatrist.

Maya Foa, of the legal charity Reprieve, said: “This appalling ­attack shows that the only way to ensure Mr Asghar’s safety is to have him returned home to Britain. The UK government must redouble their efforts on this front and as a first step, must ­urgently ensure that he is moved today to a safe location in Pakistan, until he is well enough to travel.”

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can confirm a British national has been injured in prison in Pakistan. We are providing consular assistance and have raised our concerns with the local authorities at a senior level.”

SEE ALSO

Pakistan: Edinburgh man’s blasphemy death sentence

Back to the top of the page