Islamabad: Protests continued for the third consecutive day after the Pakistan Supreme Court which had acquitted Asia Bibi in the 2010 blasphemy case. Protestors took to roads, burnt tyres and threw stones at vehicles.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TLP) called for a strike and hence all roads in the major cities in the country have been blocked. As many as 14 religious groups have joined the protests against the acquittal of Asia Bibi in the blasphemy case. Several religious clerics have protested against the court’s verdict and have been demanding Bibi’s execution publicly.
Protestors have also stopped all vehicular movement and shut down shops and other businesses, as per reports. Moreover, the road to the Jinnah International Airport from Star Gate in Karachi has also been blocked. Several other media reports suggest that all major roads in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar have been obstructed. Also, educational institutions, both public and private, in Punjab, Balochistan and Karachi in Sind have been closed in view of the strike.
Meanwhile, section 144 had been imposed across Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan on October 31 following the protests, which are most likely to continue till November 10.
Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that mobile services in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Gujranwala will remain suspended. The three SC judges who pronounced the judgment in the case are also being offered protection from an attack by religious clerics.
Asia Bibi was accused of blasphemy and was commuted a death sentence by a Pakistani court. On October 31, the Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted her of the charge. Asia, a Roman Catholic and a mother of four, has been offered asylum by France and Spain.
In 2009, Bibi drank water from the same container as other Muslim women from her neighbourhood, the women became angry and demanded that she convert. Bibi refused to do so, after which a mob had accused her of blasphemy. She was tried in a court and sentenced to death. She was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.