The lawyer who represents Christian mother Asia Bibi has revealed that Canada is the country most likely to grant her asylum. Bibi, who was acquitted in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy last October, has been held at an undisclosed location in Islamabad ever since. Though there have been multiple calls for various governments to grant her asylum, none have yet to materialize.
In an op-ed published at The Washington Post December 28, Bibi’s lawyer, Saif ul Malook, wrote that Bibi had “spent Christmas in a safe house in Islamabad.”
“I hope that’s the last time my client, a Catholic, must spend the holiday unable to live and worship in freedom,” he added.
Despite her acquittal, the Pakistani government felt compelled to strike a deal with hardline Islamic clerics in order to quell protests that were engulfing several major cities across the country. Within that deal was the provision that Bibi would not be allowed out of the country until a final review into the Supreme Court’s ruling was conducted.
A decision on the outcome of such an appeal is expected this month. Despite this, Malook is convinced that Prime Minister Imran Khan, who issued a stern warning to radicals following the overturning of Bibi’s conviction, is determined to keep the Christian mother of five safe.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government appears determined to ensure the safety of Asia and her husband, Ashiq Masih, and the couple’s two daughters, until another country agrees to take them in,” he wrote, adding that “Canada is their most likely destination,” should they be allowed to leave.
Of Bibi’s decade behind bars, Malook noted that her treatment at the hands of the authorities was not as brutal as one might expect.
“Asia seemed to have found a quiet life of sisterhood with her guards, who allowed her a television set and more time outside her cell than usually granted to death-row inmates,” he wrote. “The relatively benign treatment might have resulted from pressure by Western governments, but I sensed it was because the guards recognized Asia’s bravery and human spirit.”
Due to security concerns, Malook says he will likely not return to Pakistan for at least another two years.
“Until then, I will live with friends in the Netherlands or with my daughter in Britain,” he wrote. “But I yearn to return home to continue defending victims of the blasphemy laws.”
“Asia had rarely ventured far from her village before being imprisoned, so beginning a new life in another country would be a challenge for her,” Malook concluded. “But she has shown remarkable strength throughout this ordeal, and I am confident that she will succeed.”
Despite numerous dialogues between Pakistan and various western nations, asylum has still yet to be granted to the persecuted Christian woman. A Change.org petition for the United States to grant “emergency sanctuary and refugee status to Asia Bibi and her family” has garnered over 80,000 signatures.
Horrifyingly, the former neighbors of Asia Bibi have said that they still wish to see her executed despite the fact she was legally acquitted by the highest court in the land.
“She confessed her crime in front of them, how can they forgive her?” asked Mohammad Bota, the older brother of the farm owner on whose land Bibi was accused, according to the Telegraph.
Many other villagers agreed with that sentiment.
“I would die in the name of my religion and if someone has committed blasphemy, then they are not forgiven,” said local farmer Shawkat Ali. “If the Supreme Court has some faith in religion and if they are Muslims, they should execute her.”
Please continue to pray for Asia and her family, as well as those who have the power to grant asylum to the embattled mother.