Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who was acquitted on blasphemy charges last October after nearly a decade on death row, will soon be allowed to leave the Muslim-majority nation to be reunited with family, Prime Minister Imran Khan says.
In a BBC interview in the capital of Islamabad, Khan said: “There is a little bit of a complication. And I can’t speak on the media about [it]. But I can assure you she is safe and she will be leaving in weeks.”
Recently, the British Government had broken its silence during talks with Pakistan over Bibi’s release, saying it was “making progress” with Pakistani officials.
The mother of five was acquitted of her blasphemy conviction last October by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. She was jailed in 2010 after a reported disagreement with several Muslim women over a water container that Bibi had drunk from. The women accused Bibi of blaspheming the name of the prophet Muhammad, which is punishable by death in Pakistan.
Bibi’s children have already fled to Canada. The Daily Mail had reported that Bibi, 55, was “very unwell,” suffering from “low blood pressure” and being denied medical care while holed up in a safe house.
Despite her acquittal, the Pakistani government has sought assurances that Bibi will not speak ill of her home country upon leaving.
In response, member of Parliament Helen Jones told the Warrington Guardian that British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt could “go one step further in contesting the persecution of Christians around the world” by granting Bibi asylum in the U.K. immediately.
Last year, British Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly blocked Bibi’s asylum request, but in an update to the British Parliament on April 8, Hunt said, “Making sure that she is safe and has somewhere safe to go is a top priority of this government.” Meanwhile, Canada has said it would grant asylum to the entire Bibi family.
Upon hearing last November that the British government was resistant to granting Bibi asylum, Franklin Graham urged the U.K. to reconsider, via Facebook: “We shouldn’t back down from doing the right thing because of threats. Pray for Asia Bibi and her family. She did nothing wrong and served eight years on death row in Pakistan before being freed by their highest court.”
Bibi remains in Pakistan with her husband, Ashiq Masih, who joined her upon her acquittal.
Feature Image: Alamy Stock Photo