A leading British newspaper is reporting that embattled Christian mother Asia Bibi is not being allowed out of Pakistan until she can promise not to speak ill of her home nation when abroad. The Times noted that Bibi, who was acquitted of a blasphemy charge last October, was still unsure as to when she could expect to be released, with the Pakistani government currently holding up her asylum paperwork.
“No one is telling me when they will release me and send us abroad,” Bibi said, according to a close friend.
It is understood that Bibi’s children are already in Canada, where the entire family has been granted asylum. Despite the excruciating hold-up, Pakistani government officials have continued to insist that Asia and her husband, Ashiq Masih, are free to leave on their own accord.
Considering the suffering Bibi and her family have endured at the hands of the Pakistani authorities, it is astonishing that they would attempt to muzzle her criticisms upon release. Bibi spent almost a decade behind bars, on death row, after being convicted on a blasphemy charge which was, according to the Supreme Court, “concoction incarnate.” It was utterly false. Now, after such an extensive period of ill treatment, the government has the audacity to delay Bibi’s reunion with her children. It is staggering.
Several cr0ss-party members of the British government lambasted Pakistan’s government’s actions, noting that this behavior “falls short of what we would expect from a member of the Commonwealth.”
“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 Bibi has still not been released to allow her to take up the offer of asylum in Canada,” the MP’s wrote in a letter to the Pakistani governing authorities, as reported by The Tablet.
Addressing the reports that indicate the Pakistani government is pressuring Bibi not to speak badly of them, the MP’s noted that “such pressure is wholly inappropriate and will, in the longer term, do even more damage to the reputation of the Government that you represent.”
“We look forward to your prompt response and to the release to the Canadian Embassy of Asia Bibi without further delay,” the letter concluded.
The UK’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, reportedly campaigned passionately to have the British government approve Bibi’s asylum request. However, Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly blocked the application upon fears that it would “stoke tensions” among Muslims in the UK.
“Sajid was very skeptical about the official advice, and pushed hard for her to be given asylum here. It eventually landed on the Prime Minister’s desk, but she just followed the advice of the officials,” said a senior government source, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Bibi continues to be held in a secure location along with her husband. Do pray for them both as they seek to escape the clutches of a country that has brought them so much harm.