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Aasia Bibi still in Pak, but free to go anywhere: FO

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Press Trust of India Islamabad
Pakistan said on Thursday that Christian woman Aasia Bibi, who was recently acquitted by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case, was a free citizen and has the right to travel anywhere inside the country or abroad.
A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel threw out a petition seeking to review the apex court's decision to acquit 47-year-old Bibi on Tuesday.
"She is a free citizen. If she wants to live in Pakistan, she can live in Pakistan. If she wants to go abroad she can go. This is her wish and there is no restriction on her," Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal told the weekly media briefing here.
She has been in protective custody and the government has refused to disclose her whereabouts.
"To the best of my knowledge, Aasia Bibi is still in Pakistan," Faisal said.
Bibi, a mother of four, may leave the country shortly as there are threats to her life. Her two daughter had already shifted to Canada.
She was arrested in 2009 for allegedly using derogatory words during a quarrel with Muslim women while working on a farm in Nankana Sahib area of Punjab province. The case was filed by a local prayer leader on the complaint of the Muslim women.
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.
Her case has been deeply divisive in Pakistan where there is strong support for the controversial blasphemy laws.
Bibi's case gained prominence when former governor of Pakistan's Punjab province Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 for supporting her and criticising the blasphemy laws.
A month after Taseer was killed, Pakistan's religious minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who spoke out against the blasphemy law, was shot dead in Islamabad.
The blasphemy laws were promulgated by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1980s. A person convicted under these laws is given death sentence.

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First Published: Jan 31 2019 | 8:00 PM IST

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