Asia Bibi departs Pakistan for Canada


(NNI): Asia Bibi, the Christian woman at the centre of a decade-long blasphemy row, has left Pakistan, according to sources, months after her death sentence was overturned to mass protests in the country.

Meanwhile, according to a private television channel report Wednesday, Aasia Bibi, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case last year, has left Pakistan to fly to Canada.

The diplomatic sources confirmed the development saying that the Christian woman has departed to Toronto city of Canada.

This is the latest chapter in a saga that has sparked violent demonstrations and high-profile assassinations while spotlighting rising religious extremism across wide sections of Pakistani society.

It was not clear when Bibi may have left or where she may have gone; however, her daughters had already fled to Canada. “Aasia Bibi has left the country. She is a free person and travelled on her independent will,” sources said.

The case is extraordinarily sensitive, and multiple previous claims about her departure ended up being false. Bibi – a labourer from Punjab – was first convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and was on death row until her acquittal last year.

Her case swiftly became the most infamous in Pakistan, drawing worldwide attention to the issue as it carries a maximum death penalty under the country’s penal code.

Bibi has technically been free to leave Pakistan since January when the Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge to her acquittal in October.

Since then, Bibi has been widely believed to have been held in protective custody by authorities as she awaited an asylum deal in a third country.

A three-judge special bench, headed by the then chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, had acquitted Asia Bibi on October 31 last year.

The 56-page detailed judgement was penned by  Mian Saqib Nisar and included a concurrent opinion by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. NNI

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