Islamabad: The Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the review petition filed against the acquittal of Asia Bibi on blasphemy charges, reported Pakistan media. The Christian woman who had been imprisoned and was put on death row for the past eight years is expected to leave the country after Pakistan SC upheld her acquittal.
Accepting the 2015 appeal filed by Asia Bibi, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on October 31, 2018, set aside her death sentence. Bibi became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. A mother of four, Bibi has been living on death row since 2010. She was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours had objected to her drinking water from their glass as she wasn’t a Muslim.
Following the top court’s acquittal, radical Islamist groups had started protesting and blocking highways in Pakistan. In major cities such as Lahore, Karachi and the capital Islamabad, members of the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) party blocked highways, despite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan warning them to not confront the state.
Responding to the threats made to the judiciary by the religion-political parties over the acquittal, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had asked how the court could punish someone if the charges against them could not be proven, Dawn online had reported earlier.
“I and the bench (members) are all lovers of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the Prophet’s honour. But we are not judges only for Muslims. If there is no proof against someone, how can we punish them?”
Bibi’s lawyer, who had fled to the Netherlands after receiving death threats for defending her on blasphemy charges, returned home, according to a media report. Saiful Malook returned to the country on Saturday ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on January 29 to decide whether to allow an appeal against Asia Bibi’s acquittal on blasphemy charges, The Express Tribune had reported.