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Asia Bibi 'still living like a prisoner'

Wed 16 Jan 2019
By Alex Williams

A Christian woman cleared of blasphemy in Pakistan last October is still living like a prisoner, two-and-a-half months after her acquittal, friends have claimed.

Those close to Asia Bibi say Pakistani security forces will not allow the mother to open a window in her hideout - in a location which remains a closely-guarded secret.

Ms Bibi is being kept under close watch and is prevented from leaving the country while the Supreme Court in Islamabad reviews its decision to free her - eight years after she was sentenced to death.

 

Currently living with her husband, Ashiq Masih, she longs to be reunited with her children - who have been taken to Canada for their own safety - friends say. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Islamist extremists and members of right-wing religious parties have been demanding the public execution of Asia Bibi over claims she insulted the Islamic prophet Mohammad - something Ms Bibi denies.

She has been living in a hideout amid concerns of a threat to her safety.

 

Ms Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010 following a row with two Muslim women over the shared use of a drinking water container.

It is believed Ms Bibi intends to leave Pakistan at the earliest opportunity. Several countries - including Australia and Canada have signalled they might be willing to grant Asia Bibi asylum.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minsiter was quizzed on Wednesday over the government's role in the situation.

 

Pakistani-born Rehmam Chisti, a Conservative MP, asked Theresa May during a session of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons whether Ms Bibi might be offered sanctuary in the UK.

The PM said the UK Government was being kept update on the case, adding that the safety and wellbeing of Asia and her family was its "primary concern".

Mrs May refused to comment on speculation over where Ms Bibi might be offered asylum, saying ministers did not want to compromise her "long-term safety".

 

The UK government's reaction to Asia Bibi's case was one of the reasons cited in Rehman Chisti's resignation letter as the Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party in Novermber.

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