Doctors: Briton shot in Pakistan for ‘blasphemy’ too unwell to be moved back to prison

Doctors in Pakistan have said that a mentally-ill Edinburgh man who was shot by a police officer while on death row on ‘blasphemy’ charges is too unwell to be returned to prison.

Mohammed Asghar, 70, was targeted in Adiala jail, Rawalpindi last week by a police officer. People accused of blasphemy in Pakistan often face attempts on their lives by extremists.

Since the shooting, Mr Asghar has been hospitalised, but the Pakistani authorities have made several attempts to have him returned to the same prison where he was attacked. However, local doctors have now confirmed concerns voiced by legal charity Reprieve, which is supporting Mr Asghar, that he is too unwell to be returned to the prison.

Mr Asghar, who is a British citizen, is suffering not only form the aftermath of his shooting but also severe mental illness. He has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and shortly before his 2010 trip to Pakistan, during which he was arrested on blasphemy charges, he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act in Edinburgh’s Royal Victoria Hospital.

Reprieve is now calling on the British Government to redouble its efforts to ensure that Mr Asghar is returned home to his family in Edinburgh as soon as he is well enough to travel, as it is clear that he cannot be safe from further attempts on his life by extremists while in Pakistan.

Commenting, Kate Higham, an investigator at Reprieve said: “While it is a relief that Mr Asghar is not being sent back to prison immediately, he is still far from safe from further attempts on his life. The only way we can be sure of his safety is to have him returned to Britain.  He is a deeply vulnerable, mentally ill man who should never have been put through this appalling ordeal — the British Government must redouble its efforts to have him returned to his family in Edinburgh.”