We reported that Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman who spent ten years on death row over false charges of blasphemy, was just cleared of all charges and is pending a final review of her case prior to her impending release. In response to the news, Islamic mobs have been blocking roads, promising to hunt down Bibi and murder her according to a report:
As the day of Asia Bibi’s release draws nearer the family fear that delays with an asylum application to a western Embassy could result in the heightened risk of Asia Bibi being slain in an extra-judicial killing. Already hundreds of thousands of Pakistani Muslims have taken to the streets to protest against her release and calling for her death.
Would Pakistan negotiate with a murderous mob-who-chants: “Hang her!”? Some social media reports within Pakistan this morning went out questioning Imran Khan’s resolve and giving the impression that he would.
In fact Deputy Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi said the government was talking with the protest leaders to pursue a peaceful resolution. However any reports concluding that the government had bowed to demands are not substantiated.
In Islamist protests across the country crowds chanting for the death of Asia Bibi have not diminished his determination.
BPCA lead officer Mehwish Bhatti has sent the following statement:
“During the early evening in Pakistan around 6pm (1pm GMT) some Pakistani media aired a report that the government had sent some representatives for negotiations with the extremists and after its conclusion there had been demands by Islamist groups, to send the case back to the Supreme Court for review.
“It was said that they also demanded that Asia’s name be put in the Exit Control list (ECL) to prevent her fleeing the country.
“These types of demands are fear tactics and intimidation meant to terrorize and paralyze the country.
“Pakistani Christians continue to pray for PM Khan to remain strong for the good of the country. ”
PTI responded 1 November 10:18 am to Facebook inquiries in no uncertain terms saying:
“Federal government has no plan to put Aasia Bibi’s name on ECL or appeal for review of the court’s verdict. A review petition has been filed by the concerned party that has nothing to do with the government.”
Human rights activist Jibran Khan has said that any concessions with the mob would be “surrender of the state”
And accordingly Prime Minster Khan remains unmoved.
The Pakistani authorities have spoken directly with the family and it has been confirmed to them and clarified that they will not cave in to extremist demands.
Joseph Nadeem guardian of the family has said:
“Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a very strong speech and the rioters and protesters will be stopped.
“I am confident that no retrial of Asia Supreme Court will ever happen, though we are very afraid for our lives remaining here.”
Imran Khan warned protesters on 31 October that he will not tolerate lengthy infrastructure shutdowns saying:
“We will not allow any damages. We will not allow traffic to be blocked,”
“I appeal to you, do not push the state to the extent that it is forced to take action.”
However threats continue as extremists bide their time. TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri is calling for the death of justices of the Supreme Court special bench to be killed, saying:
“They all three deserve to be killed…Either their security, their driver, or their cook should kill them.”
Anyone associated with a blasphemy victim can become the target of brutal and deadly attacks.
British Pakistani Christian Association have asked that the entire family of Asia Bibi and their guardian Joseph Nadeem’s family be given immediate asylum. Joseph Nadeem has stood by them and his name and face is directly associated with this case. (source)