Renowned human rights lawyer Advocate Saif Ul Malook has received the Jinnah Award 2022 in recognition of his courage, leadership and excellence in promoting freedom of religion for all in Pakistan.
The Jinnah Award, named after Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was created in 2021 to pay tribute to Jinnah’s legacy as an ardent champion of religious pluralism and minority rights. It was also aimed at highlighting efforts being made by members of civil society to address freedom of religion issues in Pakistan.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Pakistani Minorities, a cross-party parliamentary group, announced Advocate Saif as the recipient of the award on the country’s National Minorities Day (Aug 11) – the anniversary of Jinnah’s 1947 speech wherein he had laid the foundation for a country free of intolerance and prejudice.
“Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisioned and fought for a Pakistan in which all citizens would be treated equally. This award not only memorialises his vision of equality – one which is shared across the world – but also highlights the important work of those who are courageously carrying out his mission in difficult circumstances in Pakistan today,” said APPG for Pakistani Minorities Co-Chair Lord David Alton.
“The APPG for Pakistani Minorities was pleased to receive so many outstanding nominations, and the winner Saif Ul Malook represents a brave and selfless lawyer who has struggled persistently to ensure the release of many victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, including Asia Bibi, Shagufta Kausar and her paralysed husband Shafqat Emmanuel, despite receiving many death threats,” he said.
The award will be presented to Advocate Saif at the UK Parliament later this year.
ADVOCATE SAIF UL MALOOK
As Pakistan’s leading rights lawyer, Advocate Saif Ul Malook has successfully overturned a number of convictions for “blasphemy”.
When Advocate Saif won freedom for Pakistan’s most high-profile blasphemy convict, Asia Bibi, he was offered sanctuary in the Netherlands, but he decided not to take it. Even now, he and his family are under police protection.
“My loved ones are very supportive of what I do. They understand that I have dedicated my life to defending the rights of minorities, and, in particular, the Christian community and individuals accused of blasphemy cases,” he says.
“I am not frightened because I know that I have a lot of support throughout the world for my work, and that gives me the strength and courage to continue my mission in providing legal aid to all who are wrongly accused of blasphemy, regardless [of] the threat to my life.”
He says he prefers to concentrate on what he can achieve in pulling people out of the gallows. “I feel it’s my duty and obligation to so do, until the final day of my life.”
Advocate Saif is also associated with Kross Konnection, sharing legal advice and opinion on rights issues facing vulnerable groups in Pakistan, through his show ‘Live with Saif‘.