Aasia Bibi, acquitted of blasphemy, has left Pakistan for Canada: Report

Aasia Bibi was convicted in 2010 by the trial court and her death sentence was maintained by the Lahore High Court in 2014. The apex court overturned her conviction last year, sparking days of violent demonstrations led by hardline Islamist parties. (Reuters/File)

Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who was acquitted in a blasphemy case, has left Pakistan, DawnNewsTV reported quoting sources from Foreign Office. "Aasia Bibi has left the country. She is a free person and travelled on her independent will," the source said. News agency Reuters quoted her lawyers saying that she has reached Canada to live with her daughters. "I have inquired within available channels, and according to them she has left for Canada," Bibi’s lawyer, Saif Ul Malook told Reuters.

Aasia was acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row in Pakistan. Her acquittal in October last year sparked country-wide protests by religio-political groups in Pakistan. Fearing death threats against her by radical Islamists, Aasia was transferred to a secret location. Her daughters live in Canada.

Aasia Bibi's ordeal began in 2009 when two fellow farmworkers refused to drink from the same container as a Christian woman. There was a quarrel and the two Muslim women later accused Bibi of blasphemy.

Editorial | Aasia Bibi gets reprieve from Pak's SC, but the country's blasphemy laws are unlikely to go soon

Bibi was convicted in 2010 by the trial court and her death sentence was maintained by the Lahore High Court in 2014. The Supreme Court judges said there were widespread inconsistencies in the testimony against Bibi, who has steadfastly maintained her innocence.

Bibi's case gained prominence when the former governor of Pakistan's Punjab province Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 for supporting her and criticising the blasphemy laws.

The blasphemy laws were promulgated by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1980s. A person convicted under these laws is given a death sentence.