You couldn’t really blame the judge in the Rimsha Masih bail hearing for looking nervous. Bad things happen to judges that are thought to be soft on blasphemy.
So I hadn’t been surprised that Judge Muhammad Azam Khan had adjourned and adjourned and adjourned this case during the past fortnight or so. He got a break last weekend, however, when witnesses came forward to say that they had seen a cleric doctoring evidence against the young girl.
But he still wasn’t taking any chances. After telling the courtroom he would make his decision at 3pm, he cunningly announced he was freeing Rimsha at 12-30, ensuring that his words were missed by much of the world’s media who have helped bring down international condemnation on Pakistan.
Make no mistake, though. This is not just a very rare decision in a land where blasphemy allegations often go unchallenged. It is also a very brave decision. With luck now this whole sorry business can quietly be dropped.