A group of politicians has raised concerns that Catholic mother Asia Bibi has not yet left Pakistan and is now being denied access and communication with the country that has offered her asylum.
The politicians, including Catholics Mike Kane, Maria Caulfield, Lord Deben, Mary Glindon, Damian Green and Carol Monaghan, have written to Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, High Commissioner of Pakistan, voicing their concerns, pointing out that the authorities in Pakistan have handled the case in a ‘disgraceful manner’.
They wrote: ‘It is with profound concern that we observe that Asia Bibi remains in Pakistan in what is described as “protective” custody and that she is being denied access to and communication with Canadian diplomats whose country has offered her asylum.’
The politicians cite reports that Ms Bibi is being pressured not to criticise Pakistan and its authorities if she is allowed to leave the country.
‘If this is true, such pressure is wholly inappropriate and will, in the longer term, do even more damage to the reputation of the Government that you represent,’ the letter warns.
‘The way in which Ms Bibi’s case has been handled in Pakistan can only be described as disgraceful; and we, Members of Parliament from all political parties and both Houses, ask you immediately to convey to your Government in no uncertain terms our disappointment, anger and frustration that Ms Bibi has still not been released to allow her to take up the offer of asylum in Canada,’ they add.
Pakistan’s behaviour ‘falls short of what we would expect from a member of the Commonwealth’, they add.
Ms Bibi spent almost eight years on death row in Pakistan after being accused of blasphemy during a dispute over drinking water concerning a fellow factory worker.
She was acquitted in October 2018 and, earlier this year, Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld the acquittal and ruled that Ms Bibi was free to leave Pakistan, where she was facing death threats.
Picture: Still held despite being freed: Asia Bibi. (BPCA).