Aasia Bibi “could be flown out of Pakistan any moment”, lawyer tells Arab News

This undated file photo shows Multan district jail. On Wednesday night, Pakistani Christian woman Aasia Bibi was freed from Multan jail, where she has spent 8 years, and flown to a government facility in the capital Islamabad (Photo courtesy: Punjab Prisoners website)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Aasia Bibi “could be flown out of Pakistan any moment”, lawyer tells Arab News

  • Christian woman freed from jail a week after SC ruled in her favor in blasphemy case
  • Foreign Office denies report, terming it as “fake news”

ISLAMABAD: In what could be the defining moment ending an eight-year ordeal for a Pakistani Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy, her lawyer said on Thursday that she was finally free and could be “flown out of Pakistan any moment”.
“Aasia Bibi has been released and is now in the government’s custody. She may be flown out of Pakistan any moment,” Saiful Mulook, Bibi’s lawyer, said in an exclusive interview to Arab News.
However, denying local media reports, Foreign Office Spokesperson, Dr Mohammad Faisal said on Thursday that Bibi was still in Pakistan. “There is no truth to reports of her leaving the country — its fake news,” he said.
The statement contradicts news reports from a day earlier – quoting Mulook -- which said that Bibi had been released from the women’s wing of a prison in Multan and was being flown to an “unknown destination”. However, reliable sources confirmed to Arab News that Bibi had been brought to Islamabad onboard a special plane which landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport, adjacent to the Nur Khan Air Base.
Bibi, 51, was on death row for the past eight years after a lower court found her guilty in 2010. However, citing a lack of credible evidence in the case, the Supreme Court (SC) overturned the ruling last week, acquitting Bibi of all charges. The decision led to massive protests across the country, spearheaded by a far-right religious party, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who set several conditions for calling off the protests. Prime among these was that the SC overturns its verdict and places Bibi on the country’s Exit Control List (ECL).
Bibi’s case gained international prominence after a senior politician, who was supporting Bibi throughout her ordeal, was killed for criticizing the country’s blasphemy laws. In January 2011, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own guard for speaking in favor of Bibi.
The case came under the spotlight once again following the protests of the past few days which enraged devout Christians around the world and led to several countries offering her asylum. In a tweet to Pakistan’s authorities last night, European parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani thanked the government for moving Bibi to a safe place.
Mulook left the country fearing for his life -- following the SC verdict -- and might seek political asylum in the Netherlands.


Trump drops new North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim

In this file photo taken on February 27, 2019 US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 59 sec ago
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Trump drops new North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim

  • “President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday abruptly announced the cancelation of sanctions imposed by his own Treasury Department to tighten international pressure on North Korea.
“It was announced today by the US Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!” Trump said in a tweet.
He appeared to be referring to measures unveiled Thursday that targeted two Chinese companies accused of helping North Korea to evade tight international sanctions meant to pressure Pyongyang into ending its nuclear weapons program.
But The Washington Post reported, citing Trump administration officials, that the president’s tweet referenced future sanctions that had not been announced and were scheduled for “the coming days.”
The Thursday sanctions were the first new sign of pressure since talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down in Hanoi less than a month ago.
However, Trump, who has previously spoken of “love” for the totalitarian leader, appears to retain hope that his strong personal relationship will bear fruit.
“President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said.
Adam Schiff, a Democrat who heads the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, blasted Trump for canceling sanctions “imposed only yesterday and championed by his own national security adviser, because he ‘loves’ Kim.”
“Foolish naivete is dangerous enough. Gross incompetence and disarray in the White House make it even worse,” Schiff tweeted.
On Thursday, Trump national security adviser John Bolton had tweeted that the sanctions were meant to put an end to “illicit shipping practices” by North Korea.
“Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion,” he said.
China complained, saying that it did enforce all UN resolutions and opposed “any country imposing unilateral sanctions and taking long-arm jurisdiction against any Chinese entity according to their own domestic laws.”
This was Trump’s second major, unexpected foreign policy announcement by Twitter in two days.
On Thursday, he sent a tweet reversing decades of US policy and pledged to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the hotly contested Golan Heights border area with Syria.