Despite being innocent, Asia Bibi was forced out of her country – this is the dark truth about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

Society at large in Pakistan is not ready to have any kind of reasoned debate about the misuse of religious laws

Raza Hamdani

The Independent Voices


Protests over Asia Bibi’s acquittal showed how toxic the issue of blasphemy really is ( AP/Shakil Adil )

Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in a blasphemy case last year, left the country of her birth earlier this month to seek refuge in Canada, where she has been reunited with her family.
Bibi was ultimately acquitted of blasphemy charges only after spending nine years in jail on death row following a previous guilty ruling. The decision of the Supreme Court sparked country-wide protests by hardline religious-political groups, raising fears for Bibi’s safety.

Indeed, so concerned were the authorities that when she was released from a women’s prison in the Punjabi city of Multan in November, Bibi was flown to Islamabad via special aircraft, and then taken to an undisclosed location. Officials remained tight-lipped about her movement and whereabouts for security reasons.

Two months later, in January this year, the Supreme Court dismissed a review petition against her acquittal and her freedom was confirmed.

Finally, in early May, a Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman, at a weekly press briefing, confirmed that Bibi had left the country. “She is”, said the spokesman, “a free person and travelled on her independent will.”


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