Chris­tian wo­man still un­able to leave Pak­istan

Was ac­quit­ted af­ter 8 years on death row for blas­phemy

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Kathy Gannon

ISLAMABAD — A Chris­tian wo­man ac­quit­ted of blas­phemy af­ter spend­ing eight years on death row in Pak­istan has been trans­ferred from a se­cret lo­ca­tion near the cap­i­tal to an­other in Karachi, but is still un­able to leave the coun­try to join her daugh­ters in Canada, a friend said Satur­day.

Aman Ul­lah, who spoke to Aa­sia Bibi by tele­phone Fri­day, said she is be­ing held in a room in the south­ern port city. He said Bibi, 54, faces death threats by rad­i­cal Is­lamists.

“She has no in­di­ca­tion of when she will leave; they are not telling her why she can­not leave,” said Ul­lah, who fled the coun­try Fri­day af­ter re­ceiv­ing threats from ex­trem­ists an­gered by his as­sis­tance to Bibi, which be­gan while she was on death row.

Ul­lah has been a li­ai­son be­tween Bibi and Eu­ro­pean diplo­mats, who have sought to as­sist her. The As­so­ci­ated Press spoke to Bibi by tele­phone with Ul­lah’s as­sis­tance af­ter her Oc­to­ber ac­quit­tal, which was up­held last month.

Bibi’s or­deal be­gan in 2009 when two fel­low farm­work­ers re­fused to drink from the same con­tainer as a Chris­tian wo­man. There was a quar­rel and the two Mus­lim women later ac­cused Bibi of blas­phemy. The Supreme Court judges said there were wide­spread in­con­sis­ten­cies in the tes­ti­mony against Bibi, who has stead­fastly main­tained her in­no­cence.

The ac­quit­tal should have given Bibi her free­dom, but Ul­lah said diplo­mats were told that her de­par­ture from Pak­istan, where she feels her life would be in dan­ger, would come not in the short term, but “in the medium term.”

He said Bibi told him she is locked in one room of a house.

“The door opens at food time only,” said Ul­lah, and she is al­lowed to make phone calls in the morn­ing and again at night. He said she usu­ally calls her daugh­ters.

Bibi’s hus­band is with her, he said.

“She is liv­ing with her fam­ily and given req­ui­site se­cu­rity for safety,” In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Fawad Chaudhry said in an email.

He said the gov­ern­ment was re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing “all pos­si­ble mea­sures” to pro­tect her and her fam­ily, adding “she is a free cit­i­zen af­ter her re­lease from jail and can move any­where in Pak­istan or abroad.”


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