Released, but not out of the woods. On Wednesday evening, Asia Bibi was able to leave the prison of Multan, in the east of Pakistan. The supreme Court had acquitted of charges of blasphemy in a judgment on 31 October, but she remained in a cell “for security reasons”, he told us his main support, Joseph Nadeem, at the end of last week. She is threatened with death by islamists.
For the first time since the beginning of the case in 2009, this mother of a christian family is, therefore, free. However, on Thursday afternoon, she was still in Pakistan. In the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the BBC urdu-language as well as the local information channel 24 News HD had claimed that she had left the destination country to the netherlands. The same sources claim that the Dutch ambassador to Pakistan was present at the time of his release in Multan.
“I do not expect a violent reaction of the islamists, except if the press continues to rage, and to repeat that Asia Bibi is a party to the foreign. She is safe in Pakistan”
But a few hours later, the Information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, has denied the information. “It is in Pakistan,” he said. The ministry of foreign Affairs, the anger is palpable: “The media must demonstrate responsibility and cross-check their information before publishing. I am not expecting a violent reaction of the islamists, except if the press continues to rage, and to repeat that Asia Bibi is a party to the foreign. She is safe in Pakistan”, hammered, furious, the spokesperson of the foreign Affairs Mohammad Faisal in Figaro .
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The leaks on the release of Asia Bibi and her alleged departure abroad will place the authorities in a tricky position. On 2 November, the government had signed an agreement with the islamist Tehreek-e-Labbaik who were protesting and blocked the country for three days. In exchange for ending the protests, the civil power committed itself to start a procedure for that Asia Bibi is prohibited to leave the territory. The new premature a so-called exfiltration and thus running the risk of a second wind of revolt of the religious right. Contacted Thursday morning, Joseph Nadeem did not hide his desire to flee Pakistan soon. “Our bags are packed”, we has he entrusted to you.
However, the authorities could wait for the judicial process to reach its term before you leave for Asia Bibi. The lawyer of the imam to the origin of the complaint for blasphemy has filed an appeal before the supreme Court to challenge the acquittal. “The civil power and the army expect that the justice rejects the appeal. When this is done, they will come out against Asia Bibi,” says Paul Bhatti, former minister for minorities who are in regular contact with the authorities. Paul Bhatti does not believe to much of the new violence of the islamists. “Hundreds of them were arrested after the clashes of last week. And I remain confident in the fact that the supreme Court will not revisit its decision to exclude Asia Bibi.”
Thursday afternoon, the islamists were not taken to the streets and the calm prevailed in Pakistan. One of the leaders of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, Afzal Qadri, appeared very cautious in a video message. A tone with a tired, blank look, he said: “We don’t let them out of the country”, without calling on his supporters to protest. And the ministry of the Interior does not intend to speed up the procedure of prohibition of output against Asia Bibi. The minister of State Shehryar Afridi said on Wednesday that such a measure could not be taken on the injunction of the supreme Court.
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The mystery still hovering over the country that could host Asia Bibi and her family. When asked about the possibility of asylum in the netherlands, where he found refuge last weekend, his lawyer Saif-ul-Malook is simply meet on Thursday morning: “I can’t make any comment.” The same discretion on the side of the pakistani authorities. Asked whether Islamabad was in talks with western countries in order to facilitate the application for asylum, Mohammad Faisal said Wednesday night that such talks do not exist.
France ready to accept
Several european States were inclined to welcome Asia Bibi. Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday in the national Assembly: “France is ready […] to welcome ms. Asia Bibi if she asks for it. We act […] with our european partners, with the international organizations to get his exfiltration.” The Figaro was revealed on Wednesday that the embassy of France in Islamabad had hosted the advocate, Saif-ul-Malook prior to his departure for the netherlands.
On November 3, the husband of Asia Bibi, Ashiq Masih, had launched an appeal in the british press for his family to receive asylum in Great Britain, the United States or Canada. On Wednesday, a association of Italian catholic “Aid to the Church which suffers”, has released a second video in which Ashiq Masih, request the support of Rome to get out of Pakistan with his family. “We are no longer even what to eat because we can’t run errands,” he pleaded. The minister of the Interior in italy, Matteo Salvini, had then reacted, promising that he would do “everything humanly possible to ensure a future for this woman.”
Asia Bibi : France needs to do more ? – Look on Figaro Live