“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32)
Asia Bibi received protection and political asylum from the Canadian Government; Pakistani government officials did not reveal her destination, or say when she left, but her lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told the BBC that she had already arrived in Canada, where two of her daughters are understood to have been granted asylum.
After her acquittal it was very difficult for Asia Bibi and her husband Ashiq Masih to leave Pakistan, due to extreme pressure by the extremist groups in Pakistan. The violent protests started all over the Pakistan by the extremists’ religious groups who strongly support blasphemy laws.
Asia Bibi, a mother of four, had been living on death row since 2010, when she became the first woman to be sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. In 2011, the governor of Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, and the minorities’ minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, were murdered after they spoke in defense of Bibi and called for the reform of blasphemy laws.
It is worth noting that on November 12, 2014, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia sent a letter to the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, pleading him to pardon the blasphemy convict Asia Bibi.
The blasphemy laws are form of legalized discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities. The blasphemy laws were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s. Pakistan has a dark history of intolerance, and its controversial blasphemy laws. These laws have often been used as a tool to persecute religious minorities, particularly Christians, and to settle personal vendettas.
Pakistan has witnessed in the past that the blasphemy allegations have led to mob violence against accused persons and Christian residential areas. Human rights groups have been demanding the repeal of these laws. The politicians are often weak and the state has been supporting, directly or indirectly, those groups who promote intolerance and violence in the country. Therefore, it seems unlikely at this stage that these laws will be repealed easily.
In the past, during the 23-year-long Afghan War, the militant groups in Pakistan channeled into “jihadi” groups, and their illegal actions were absolutely not punished. This radical energy made our beloved land an unsafe place to live.
The “National Action Plan” and Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan
However, PTI Government under the leadership of the Prime Minister of Pakistan is making a hard struggle to save the victims of blasphemy laws, and it is worth mentioning that PTI, through Dialogue meetings and with the help of Muslim Scholars, is making Pakistan a more peaceful state for all the citizens of Pakistan.
The “National Action Plan” was established by the Government of Pakistan in January 2015 to crack down on terrorism and address the root cause of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan, but the previous Government did nothing to counter extremism in Pakistan.
The present Government of Pakistan has seriously implemented the “National Action Plan” to challenge the extremists and jihadi organizations, and to establish peace in Pakistan, our much-loved homeland.
Pakistan Army's sincere efforts and sacrifices in the war against terrorism
The Armed Forces of Pakistan have initiated a series of military operations for making Pakistan a peaceful place to live for all.
I believe that it is a huge responsibility of the religious leaders to help the state and to play their proactive role in effecting a change in our society, so that all the citizens of Pakistan can live peacefully.