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.


Pope prays for those stricken by California wildfires

Updated 18 November 2018
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Pope prays for those stricken by California wildfires

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has prayed for victims of California’s wildfires and freezing weather on the US East Coast.
Addressing tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, including pilgrims from New York and New Jersey. Francis prayed that “the Lord welcome the deceased into his peace, comfort family members and sustain all those involved in rescue efforts.”
Francis said he wanted to offer a “special prayer to all those stricken by the fires that are scourging California, and now also for the victims of the freeze of the east coast of the United States.”
At least 76 people perished, and hundreds are unaccounted for in the California wildfires. In the eastern US, an unusually early winter snowstorm last week was blamed for at least seven deaths.