Islamabad, November 4 (Reuters/Geo TV/ newsin.asia): The Pakistan government has agreed to the Islamic radicals’ demand that Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who had been acquitted in a blasphemy case, be prevented from going abroad by putting her on the Exit Control List.
The government confirmed the agreement, with Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Qadri telling Geo TV that “the protest will end tonight”.
As part of the agreement, anyone arrested during the protests would also be released and legal steps would work to place Bibi on Pakistan’s “exit control list”, which means she would be barred from leaving the country
Bibi’s case has outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help Bibi were assassinated.
Islamist parties such as TLP, whose rallying cry is for blasphemers to be killed, have framed Bibi’s release as Pakistan’s government caving into Western demands.
The Pakistan Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Asia Bibi by lower courts saying that the evidence was concocted and that the plea for her execution did not accord with Islamic law and principles.
The top court’s decision had enraged TLP, whose leaders have taken to the streets to call for the death of the judges who made the decision and the ouster of the government.
Bibi’s whereabouts were not known on Friday. Her family has been in hiding this week, with speculation rife that she would be secretly sent out of the country by the authorities.
The prospect of Bibi being allowed to leave Pakistan was unacceptable to the TLP’s political chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi.
“There will be a war if they send Asia out of the country,” Rizvi said.
“TLP apologies if anyone is hurt without any reason during this incident,” the agreement adds.
During the three days of protests, TLP blockaded major roads across the coastal metropolis of Karachi, eastern city of Lahore, and capital Islamabad. Other cities were also affected.
On Friday, Pakistan suspended mobile phone networks in major cities and many schools were closed.
(The featured photo above shows Islamic radicals burn a banner carrying the portrait of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan)