Protests Continue for Third Day After Pakistan Court Acquits Woman of Blasphemy

Asia Bibi was sentenced in 2010
Credit
Reuters

Asia Bibi was sentenced in 2010 Credit Reuters

The result is not only loss of individual liberty but also a state of permanent crisis.

Bibi has always denied committing blasphemy.

On the other hand, the ongoing protests against the Supreme Court (SC) verdict in Asia Bibi case have badly affected the timings of trains across the country.

The Tehrik-e Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party said its talks with the government have failed and called on its followers to get ready for a confrontation with police.

On Wednesday, the top court overturned Ms Bibi's conviction.

Asia Bibi was due to be freed eight years after getting the shock sentence for blasphemy when the Christian drank from a cup of water before passing it to two Muslim fruit-pickers.

She was tried and initially sentenced to death and has remained on death row until this decision from the Supreme Court.


Tensions were raised further on Friday night when a senior cleric known as the father of the Taliban for his role teaching many militant leaders was stabbed to death in his own home.

Authorities also stepped up security near an undisclosed detention facility where Bibi is being held for her safety.

In its judgement, the court declared there were "glaring and stark" contradictions in the case against her.

Persecution of Christians for "blasphemy" remains a serious problem in Pakistan.

"I'm here only because a Supreme Court verdict was announced today and the way a small section reacted to it and the language that they used..."

The priest invoked blessings on the judges for delivering justice.

Under the Pakistan penal code, the offence of blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment.


The case outraged Christians worldwide and has been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help Bibi were assassinated.

The Christian community has been targeted by numerous attacks in recent years, leaving many feeling vulnerable to a climate of intolerance. And the legal system - which, in theory, should be created to protect the innocent - failed her in every way until political expediency necessitated otherwise.

There were also demonstrations in other parts of Pakistan.

In early 2017, an angry mob killed a student Mashaal Khan of a university in Mardan over accusations of blasphemy and dragged his body around campus. She later moved the Lahore High Court against the execution sentence, however, the court had upheld the verdict. The party chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, subsequently asked protesters to disperse from all sit-ins peacefully.

Islamists were to hold nationwide rallies after Friday's prayers, stoking fears violence.

No violence was reported during the rallies.

In a televised national broadcast late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the protesters the government would act against any prolonged blockade. Numerous nation's poor choose to send their children to Islamic schools that teach hardline political Islamism, a better option than no school at all, they argue. "We tried negotiations and (in) negotiations you take something and you leave something".


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