Pak blasphemy case: Asia’s husband appeals to Trump, PMs of UK, Canada to help family leave country
Lahore,(PTI): The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted by the Supreme Court after being sentenced to death for blasphemy has appealed to the international community, including US President Donald Trump, to help the family leave the Islamic nation, saying he feared for their safety.
Though the apex court’s judgement was pronounced on Wednesday, there has been no official confirmation yet about the status of Asia Bibi that whether she was released from the jail or where she has been kept after being released, if at all.
On Thursday, an official of the Multan jail, where Bibi was languishing, had told PTI that she was released on early hours of that day. However, it is believed that Bibi and her family members are ‘kept’ at some safe place by the Pakistani intelligence agencies.
Also the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri had claimed that the woman has been sent back to jail on “our demand”.
“I request President Donald Trump to help us to leave Pakistan and I also request the prime minister of the UK and Canada to help us. Help us in getting freedom,” Bibi husband Ashiq Masih said in a video message.
Masih also said that he feared for his family’s safety.
Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of four, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
The Supreme Court’s judgement had triggered violent protests across Pakistan with agitators led by hardline political party TLP and other groups blocking major highways and roads, torching vehicles, damaging public and private properties and attacking policemen in different parts of the country.
The protests were later called off late Friday night after the agitators reached a deal with the government, which assured initiation of a legal process to place Bibi on the exit control list that will prevent her from flying abroad.
The government also assured not to oppose a review petition filed against the Supreme Court’s judgement.
Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook fled Pakistan on Saturday, claiming that he was facing life threats from sections of lawyers and it was difficult for him to practice in the prevailing situation.
He said he would return to Pakistan to represent his client at the hearing of the review petition if the army provided him security.
Blasphemy is a hugely inflammatory issue in Pakistan and spark attacks and even killings at the hands of vigilante mobs.
Meanwhile, police booked 5,500 people under terrorism and other charges in different parts of Punjab and Islamabad during the three-day protests following Bibi’s acquittal.
The Punjab police said it has registered over 100 FIRs across the province and booked over 7,500 people, including TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and patron-in-chief Afzal Qadri under terrorism, attempted murder and other charges.
According to a source in the government, there has been an “instruction” from the “top” not to arrest the TLP leadership with whom the government has reached an agreement to end the country-wide protests.
Pakistan’s military establishment also played a vital role in persuading the TLP to end the protest, the source said.