Canada confirms it is in talks with Pakistan over Asia Bibi
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday talks were underway with Pakistan over a Pakistani Christian woman whose acquittal on blasphemy charges against Islam last month sparked days of protests in the South Asian country.
Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan before being released, is in protective custody because her life is in danger from those who disagree with the acquittal.
“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau said in an interview with Agence France Presse in Paris, where he attended a ceremony marking the end of World War I. His comments were confirmed by a spokesperson in Ottawa.
“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he added.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Bibi’s situation was discussed when Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was called by his Canadian counterpart the previous day.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi said Asia Bibi is our national and Pakistan fully respects her legal rights,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on social network Twitter.
On Tuesday, the ultra-Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party that led the protests said it strictly opposed her release and any permission for her to go abroad.
“It is a stance of the millions of Pakistani Muslims,” TLP spokesperson Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters.