Mumbai, May 8: Former death row inmate Asia Bibi has been allowed to leave Pakistan after she was granted asylum in Canada. Her lawyer Saif Ul Malook told CNN that Bibi had already arrived in Canada but the Pakistani government officials have not confirmed this development.
Bibi’s five children are reportedly already in Canada.
Asia Bibi’s case has brought the world’s attention on Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. Bibi, a Christian was jailed and convicted in 2010 on the charge of blasphemy as she had been accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammad by her neighbours. Under Pakistani law, the offence of blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment. Bibi was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to hang.
However she has always maintained that she was innocent and that she had been falsely accused.
Bibi’s case was repeatedly appealed and her conviction was overturned by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2018. While announcing the verdict Pakistan's Supreme Court quoted Shakespeare's "King Lear," saying Bibi appeared to have been "more sinned against than sinning."
"Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth in this case had been mixed with a lot which was untrue," the ruling said.
However, the ruling in favour of Asia Bibi led to violent protests across Pakistan and was one of the first tests of Imran Khan’s new government. She was kept in a safe house after her release and her acquittal was appealed against. The Supreme Court rejected the appeals and said it stood by its decision to free Asia Bibi. While rejecting the appeal, the Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa had said, "We are not hearing the case again, the lawyer was unable to point out a single error in the judgment." He added, "We have to look at the value of the statements by witnesses, how can we hang someone on a false witness statement."