ISLAMABAD (Muslim Times) – Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Faisal on Thursday termed the reports regarding Asia Bibi’s departure from Pakistan as false.
Talking to media, he asserted that Asia is still present in Pakistan and has not travelled abroad after being freed from jail.
The FO statement came after a foreign news agency claimed that the Christian woman has flown out of Pakistan after being released from Multan’s women prison.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has urged section of media to act responsible as the matter is quite sensitive.
Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy, was freed from Multan jail today, a week after her acquittal in a landmark case that triggered angry protests by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Thousands of TLP workers poured onto the streets in protest after Supreme Court judges overturned Bibi’s conviction last Wednesday.
Demonstrations broke out in major cities across Pakistan in the ruling’s wake, with club-wielding protesters blocking Islamabad’s main highway and barricading roads in Karachi and Lahore.
Her conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court last Wednesday, but she remained in prison as the government negotiated with TLP who blockaded major cities and demanded her immediate execution.
Following protests, the government agreed in a deal with protesters to impose a travel ban on Bibi, and not to challenge an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Mulook and the media criticised the government for caving in to the protesters after Prime Minister Imran Khan had at first appeared to stand up to them.
An order for her release arrived Wednesday at the jail in the central city of Multan where she was detained, a prison official told AFP.
“She has been freed,” lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said in a text message to AFP. “I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land.”
According to a civil aviation official, the aircraft which collected Bibi from jail is registered in Pakistan and is therefore obliged to land in Islamabad.
“Asia Bibi has left the prison and has been transferred to a safe place!” tweeted Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament.
Bibi has consistently denied the blasphemy charges, and her prosecution rallied international rights groups, politician, and religious figures.
Pope Benedict XVI called for her release in 2010, while his successor, Pope Francis, met the prisoner s daughter in 2015. Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih has appealed for Britain or the United States to grant the family asylum, while her lawyer has fled to the Netherlands.