Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday denied reports that Aasia Bibi had left Pakistan, saying the recently acquitted Christian woman was still in the country.
"There is no truth is reports of her leaving the country — it is fake news," Dr Faisal told DawnNewsTV.
The clarification comes on the heels of news reports from a day earlier which stated that Aasia Bibi has left Multan’s women prison and was being flown to an "unknown destination". This particular quote, attributed to Aasia Bibi's lawyer Saiful Malook, led to speculation that she had left the country. However, reliable sources had confirmed that Aasia Bibi was brought to Islamabad onboard a special aircraft after leaving prison.
Aasia Bibi was released from Multan jail more than 10 days after Supreme Court overturned her conviction and death sentence.
The aircraft carrying Aasia Bibi, whose acquittal of blasphemy charge sparked countrywide protests by religious parties and groups, landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad adjacent to Nur Khan Air Base, said sources.
Soon after her landing, she was taken to an undisclosed place in Islamabad amid tight security. The authorities are keeping her movement and whereabouts secret for security reasons.
Concern for Aasia's safety
On Tuesday, Italy stated it would help Aasia leave Pakistan because her life was in danger in the country following charges of blasphemy that put her on death row for eight years.
Her husband Ashiq Masih has reportedly stated that they could be killed by those opposing her acquittal.
Earlier, the international Catholic agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) had quoted Ashiq Masih as saying in a telephone call: “I appeal to the Italian government to help me and my family leave Pakistan. We are extremely worried because our lives are in danger. We don’t even have enough to eat because we can’t go out to buy food.”
Aasia’s case has prompted groups such as ACN, which has close ties to the Vatican, to demand protection for Christians in countries where they are a minority.
Protests against acquittal
Soon after the Supreme Court’s verdict, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) blocked roads in major cities of the country for three days, condemning the judges who had acquitted Aasia Bibi, the prime minister and the army chief.
The TLP had called off the protests after striking a deal with the government.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) is expected to hold a 'million march' in Karachi against the acquittal today.
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