EU politicians demand safe passage for Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi with the Pakistani politician Salman Taseer. Taseer, then the governor of Punjab, was assassinated — he was shot by his own bodyguard — in 2011 for voicing support for Bibi.  Photograph:( Reuters )

ANI Brussels, Belgium Nov 10, 2018, 05.00 PM (IST)

In a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan the Members of European Parliament have expressed concern over the threats to Asia Bibi (Aasiya Noreen), who was recently acquitted by Pakistan's Supreme Court in a Blasphemy Case.

The letter is signed by 197 EU politicians including from states that provide financial assistance to Pakistan. They have demanded safe passage for Asia Bibi as the Islamic fundamentalists have threatened to kill her.

Asia Bibi was convicted of Blasphemy eight years ago and sentenced to death by hanging. It was alleged that she made derogatory remarks about Islam after others objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not a Muslim.

In a letter sent to Imran Khan, EU politicians said: "We celebrated the decision of the Supreme Court to acquit Asia Bibi and were pleased to see the government defend the judiciary in the days that followed. However, it has since been reported that because of the political deal struck with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Asia Bibi is, once again, effectively on death row"."We are aware that a review of the Supreme Court verdict could take years, leaving Asia incarcerated for that time or vulnerable to mob violence if released", said the letter.

It further stated: "We understand that the decision to review the ruling was made for political, rather than legal, reasons. What happens next in this sad story will show the world whether Pakistan is a nation that respects the rule of law, or whether political interests will prevail."

''The Members of European Parliament said Pakistan must maintain the rule of law and such incidents will hugely impact the country economically."

Investors and businesses need confidence in justice for the sake of contracts, employees, and reputation. Likewise, other nations will be less likely to invest in Pakistan if the rule of law is undermined. Therefore, we urge in the strongest possible terms the Government of Pakistan to guarantee safe passage for Asiya, her family, and any of those under threat due to their part in the decision to acquit her, to any country that accepts them," the letter said.

Story highlights

The letter is signed by 197 EU politicians including from states that provide financial assistance to Pakistan. They have demanded safe passage for Asiya Bibi as the Islamic fundamentalists have threatened to kill her.