Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti will present Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari with a report on Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy by a court in early November after more than a year in prison. “Innocent” is the conclusion of the minister’s investigation. “I will hopefully submit my report to the president on Wednesday and recommend to him to grant pardon to Asia Bibi,” The Dawn quoted him as saying.
The situation is tense in and around Ferozewala this morning when a private channel broadcast news about the imminent release of the accused Christian woman. People gathered near the district prison in Sheikhupura to find out whether the information was true or not. Prison officials denied the claim, saying that Asia Bibi was still in her cell.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told AsiaNews that the president would vet the request for clemency when it arrived.
“Requests for clemency come to the president through appropriate channels. The request will be examined once it is received. For now, I cannot comment on the issue,” he said.
In Nankana, local lawyers have decided to go on strike as a sign of protest against a statement made by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who said that Asia Bibi was innocent.
(…) Pakistan’s religious parties are putting pressure on the president not to grant Bibi a pardon. They have threatened street protests across the country if President Zardari signed the clemency petition.
Pakistani “Minorities Minister”, Shahbaz Bhatti, himself a Christian, is supporting Asia Bibi.
Some days ago she spoke in a press conference with the province’s governor and stated that “I didn’t blaspheme against Mohammed. We all recognise him as the last prophet“, something striking if we consider that she had previously told the judge that she”preferred to die as a Christian than to live as a Muslim“. She also had claimed she was raped before being taken into police custody. I would like to know how she has been treated, if she has been tortured, menaced or anything else.
I hope she is released. But I am not the lest optimistic about the state in which she is going to be released. Blasphemers and apostates are killed in prison or after they have been released, as punishment for their sin.
Related: FB page in support of Asia Bibi.