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Friday, May 24, 2024

Asia Bibi or Geert Wilders? Dutch Embassy in Islamabad closed for an indefinite time

News Analysis |

The kingdom of Netherland has halted the issuance of travel documents like visa and passport for Pakistan’s citizen for uncited reasons. The halting has led to widespread rumours that revolve around the recently acquitted Asia Bibi and Dutch hate speech figure Geert Wilders.

The statement published online by government informed,” Due to circumstances beyond our control, the issuing of visa has been halted temporarily”. It added: “As soon as this situation is solved, appointments for visa applications can be made through the visa application centers of VFS Global in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi.

The Embassy of the Netherlands has closed down its operations including consular services in Islamabad apparently due to the security threats. Earlier, on November 7, AFP and BBC reported that Asia Bibi was freed from jail in Multan and claimed that she was flown out of the country.


Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 31. She was released from Multan Jail on November 7 and was moved to an unknown location for the security concerns. However, there was widespread misinformation on the media that she was freed and ‘would depart the country on a chartered plane to the Netherland’.

Read more: Has Asia Bibi been transported out of Pakistan?

This led to a reaction from the Ministry of the foreign affairs, as spokesperson Dr. Faisal during a press conference stated, “Asia Bibi is in Pakistan. There is no truth in reports of her leaving Pakistan; it is fake news.” Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary too denied the news and asked the media to act responsibly, GVS reported.

It is noteworthy that Netherland had been very active in Asia Bibi’s case. Lawyer of Asia Bibi too fled to Netherland amid security threats and has reportedly applied for asylum there. It is believed that the Dutch Ambassador too has been in talks with government officials for the Asia Bibi’s safe release.

Read more: Will the government place Asia Bibi’s name on ECL?

Speculations are that the government of Pakistan might have asked Netherland to remain low and not to get involved; this suspension of the Dutch embassy’s working in Islamabad can also be the reaction to the Dutch cartoon crisis. In August of this year, notorious anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders tried to arrange a competition to blaspheme against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but after a strong reaction by Muslims around the world, especially Pakistan, he was forced to cancel it. He singled out Pakistan in his defeat saying that “it was not over”.

Given that the religious segment in Pakistan already has antagonist sentiments towards the Netherland for the Cartoon competition arranged by their anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, it is believed that no further involvement of Netherland in the Asia Bibi matter, yet again sensitive to that religious segment, is better for the time being.