Pakistani pastor who was convicted of blasphemy faces daily torture in prison, says wife

People from the Christian community attend a protest to condemn suicide bombings which took place outside two churches in Lahore, March 16, 2015. | Reuters/Mohsin Raza

The wife of a Christian pastor who was recently sentenced to life imprisonment in Pakistan for blasphemy claimed that her husband is being tortured every day in prison.

Zafar Bhatti, 51, was sentenced to life imprisonment last week for allegedly sending "blasphemous" text messages from his mobile phone. He has been incarcerated in Adiala Central Jail in Rawalpindi since the accusation was made against him in 2012, and his wife, Nawab Bibi, has expressed concerns about his safety in the prison facility.

"There have been numerous attempts to kill my husband — he is bullied everyday and he is not safe from inmates and prison staff alike. Every day I worry that I will receive word that he is dead, this worry is making me age very quickly," she told British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).

"I pray for him every day and when we meet we cry together and pray, seeking God's intervention. I know God will free him one day but ask for Christians across the world to pray for him and to challenge their governments to help him," she added.

Bibi explained that her husband is a good man and a committed Christian, but there were Muslims who saw his church grow and took action to undermine his work.

"I wish our persecutors would see that Christians are not evil creatures. We are human beings created by God the same God that created them although they do not know this yet," Bibi went on to say.

BPCA is now raising money for Bibi because she had been struggling to make ends meet since the arrest of her husband who was the main breadwinner of the family. Her children were sent to her grandparents because she can no longer afford to keep them.

Her eldest daughters have been placed into arranged marriages at "very young ages" to help the family with the expenses, according to BPCA.

The group said that Bibi has to remain home near her husband so that she could continue to visit him and help him in his legal battle.

CLAAS, a U.K.-based advocacy group that has been providing legal aid to Bhatti, has claimed that the court overlooked the lack of evidence against the pastor.

The advocacy group has vowed to challenge the ruling, and it is trying to transfer the case to Lahore due to the threats against Bhatti as well as his defense attorney.