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SC acquits Asia Bibi & orders immediate release


News Analysis |

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, exonerated Aasia Bibi; a Christian woman accused of blasphemy in 2010. The Apex court set aside her death sentence judgment issued by a lower court.

A three-member bench of Supreme Court chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel announced its decision to invalidate High Court’s 2014 decision. Aasia Bibi had challenged Lahore High Court’s decision in Supreme Court as a last resort, a decision was reserved against her case on October 8, 2018.

After spending nine years on death row, Aasia Bibi is now set free and cleared of all charges. Apex Court noted that there were discrepancies between witnesses and prosecution’s case.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar’s in his judgment read; “Her conviction is set aside, and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” “The judgment of the high court and that of the trial court is reversed”.

In anticipation of judgment, authorities had already issued the red alert in and around Islamabad. Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s Tehreek-i-Labbaik had earlier announced a country-wide protest in case of Aasia Bibi’s acquittal. They had threatened to bring a country to a standstill if she was set free.

Read more: Pakistan Christian in last appeal on blasphemy death sentence

An audio message from TLP’s representative is going viral via Whats App, calling his supporters to prepare for a fight. He told that they had received instructions from Molana Rizvi, to get ready to give their lives if necessary.

Right after the verdict was announced, TLP’s supporters, were out on roads protesting this decision. Major intersection points of Islamabad are blocked by protestors. Zero points, Abpara Chowk, and Faizabad intersection are all chocked; cutting Federal capital from Rawalpindi.

With TLP holding a countrywide protest, the security situation will be of utmost importance in coming days. Federal capital is already on high alert.

Aasia Bibi was condemned to death in November 2010, by the lower court in Sheikhupura; after she was accused of blasphemy by two Muslim women. Lahore High Court upheld her conviction in 2014. After spending nine years on death row, Aasia Bibi is now set free and cleared of all charges. Apex Court noted that there were discrepancies between witnesses and prosecution’s case.

Her case became a litmus test for the efficiency of the criminal justice system in general and blasphemy laws in particular. This case gained global prominence after Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed for supporting her case.

Read more: Asia Bibi case: A test for the top court

With TLP holding a countrywide protest, the security situation will be of utmost importance in coming days. Federal capital is already on high alert. Rangers have been deployed to protect Red Zone and Diplomatic Enclave.