The case of Shahida Parveen is just beginning to surface in the Western press and before it is over it could become a cause celebre. Americans who have any sense of outrage ought to make it so, as should Americans who would like to see their foreign aid dollars leveraged into some civility among our more bloodthirsty allies.

Shahida Parveen is a 25-year-old Pakistani woman who has been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery. The sentence was not handed down in biblical times. It was handed down on Nov. 7 and is the third time that Pakistani courts have sentenced people to be stoned to death since President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq used martial law eight years ago to incorporate Islamic law into Pakistani laws. Two women who were previously sentenced to be stoned to death had their sentences commuted to flogging or jail after the sentences touched off major protests. According to Bryan Johnson of the Toronto Globe and Mail, in a story filed from Karachi, this time "The government seems determined to carry out {the} sentence against Ms. Parveen." He quotes the home secretary of her province as insisting: "If we claim to be Moslems, this is the law of God."

Thus, Shahida Parveen stands a chance of being yet another victim of those wonderful folks who came to Earth with a direct pipeline to God -- and who use it to justify the most unspeakable cruelties. Torquemada could have taken notes.

The details of Parveen's tribulations underscore the barbaric treatment that Parveen and her second husband are being subjected to, all in the name of Islamic law. The details are drawn from Johnson's report in the Toronto Globe and from an Associated Press report filed in December by reporter Scheherezade Faramarzi, who interviewed Parveen in prison after the sentencing.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard the sentence," Parveen told her through an interpreter. "It's all a false case. I just pray to God for my innocence and leave everything to him."

Parveen's mother died when she was 2. Her father was a carpenter. When she was 13 years old she married Khushi Mohammed, who was then 40. In April 1986, she claims, he divorced her because she was childless and he wanted to marry another woman. Much of Parveen's subsequent fate hangs on the legitimacy of that divorce.

She subsequently married her cousin Mohammed Sarwar. Two weeks after the marriage, police arrested the couple and 12 days later she was jailed. The adultery case against her was brought by her first husband. Parveen claims that the whole thing was cooked up by her spiteful stepmother who wanted her to marry a deaf cousin. "I refused and finally married the man of my own choice," Parveen told the AP. "He looked after me. Provided me with food and respected me. I was happy."

According to the AP account, the court rejected her claim that she is legally married to Sarwar and concluded that she is still married to Khushi Mohammed. The AP story said the court found that the divorce papers were forged. The Toronto Globe reported: "There is no record of the divorce. Under Islamic law, however, the husband need only repeat the oral edict: 'I divorce you.' " Judge Nasiruddin Abro ruled that Parveen and Sarwar had committed rape and adultery and ordered "that they be stoned to death at the public place."

Salim Gul, press counselor for the Pakistani Embassy here, said the case is now on appeal and could go to the Pakistani Supreme Court. He stressed that in the past no such sentences have been carried out. The emphasis in both news stories was on the stoning sentence meted out to Parveen. Sarwar also was sentenced to be stoned to death. A State Department spokesman also said that previous capital sentences have not been carried out and that the appeals process has "worked well in the past."

Both stories made it clear that Parveen ran afoul of a hard-nosed prosecutor, 56-year-old Shamseddin Koreishi, who said both should be punished because they failed to prove a divorce. He found the old code flawed. "There were less punishments," he told the AP. "It was not severe enough . . . . Now the courts agree that women are the weak sex."

Parveen knows what that means. "In our society women are oppressed," she told the AP. "They are blamed for everything that goes wrong. No one accepts what a woman says in her own defense."

Pakistan is a major client of American largesse. In December, Congress gave it $480 million in military and economic aid for this fiscal year alone, despite reports that it is still developing a nuclear weapons program. For that, the U.S. ought to at least insist that it come out of the stoning age.