Asia Bibi Finally Allowed to Leave Pakistan
Christian Mother Reportedly to Be Reunited with Family in Canada
05/08/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent nearly a decade on death row for allegedly committing blasphemy, has finally been allowed to leave Pakistan. This news, which has been confirmed by Bibi’s lawyer and other local media sources, comes more than six months after Bibi’s acquittal by the country’s Supreme Court.
“Asia Bibi has left the country,” a Foreign Office source told Dawn News TV on Wednesday. “She is a free person and travelled on her independent will.”
“I have inquired within available channels, and according to them she has left for Canada,” Saif-Ul-Malook, Bibi’s Supreme Court lawyer, told Reuters early Wednesday morning.
Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009 and remains the only woman in Pakistan’s history to be sentenced to death under the country’s notorious blasphemy laws. Bibi was on death row for more than eight years after her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Sessions Court in Sheikhupura in 2010.
The blasphemy accusation against Bibi was based on flimsy evidence following a dispute that took place in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim coworkers with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. The Muslim coworkers became angry with Bibi when she, a Christian whom they considered unclean, drank water from the same water bowl as the Muslims. An argument between Bibi and the Muslim coworkers ensued and the Muslim coworkers later reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad.
On October 31, 2018, Pakistan’s Supreme Court announced Bibi’s acquittal of the blasphemy charges that had kept her on death row. In explaining its decision, the court said that there was ultimately not enough evidence to convict Bibi.
Following the announcement of the acquittal, thousands of religious hardliners in Pakistan took to the streets in protest. These protesters demanded that the court review its decision and prevent Bibi from leaving Pakistan until the review had taken place.
On January 29, 2019, Pakistan’s Supreme Court confirmed its decision to acquit Bibi. The decision to confirm the acquittal was announced by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. In announcing the decision to uphold Bibi’s acquittal, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said, “Based on merit, this petition is dismissed.”
From her acquittal to her departure from Pakistan on Tuesday, Bibi remained in the protective custody of the Pakistani military at a secure location inside the country. According to those in contact with Bibi, her conditions at this secure location were eerily similar to prison. Friends of Bibi’s family explained that Bibi was not even able to open a window in her hideout.
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “We here at ICC are overjoyed to see that Asia has finally been set free. Since her acquittal was upheld in January, we have been waiting for the announcement that she has been allowed to leave Pakistan and reunited with her family. Our prayers are now with Asia and her family as they seek peace and security in a new country. However, we are also very concerned for the safety of Pakistan’s Christian community at large. Asia’s case remains highly sensitive and the ignition point for many acts of religious hatred. It is our hope that Pakistan will be able to secure all Pakistani Christians as extremists may seek revenge against their community.”
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