Aasia Bibi leaves for Canada to reunite with her daughters after eight years on death row.
Aasia Bibi‘s departure on Wednesday comes months after her death sentence was overturned, leading to protests by Muslim hardliners.
The development was first reported by the Dawn, Pakistan’s biggest English newspaper, and Geo News, one of the country’s largest private broadcasters, both of which cited unnamed sources.
Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christians Association told AP news agency on Wednesday he received a telephone text message from a British diplomat stating, “Aasia is out.”
A close friend of Bibi also confirmed that she had left the country, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Bibi – a labourer from central Punjab province – was first accused of blasphemy in 2009 after a quarrel with a fellow farm worker.
Her case swiftly became the most infamous in Pakistan, drawing worldwide attention to the country where blasphemy is an incendiary issue. It carries a maximum death penalty under the country’s penal code.
Mere allegations of insulting Islam have sparked lynchings in the past.
After Bibi’s October acquittal, far-right party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called its followers onto the streets. They protested for three days demanding Bibi’s immediate execution as well as death punishment to the judges who acquitted her.
Bibi has technically been free to leave Pakistan since January when the Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge to her acquittal in October.
Since then, Bibi has been widely believed to be held in protective custody by authorities as she awaited an asylum deal in a third country.
Many blasphemy cases in Pakistan see Muslims accusing Muslims, but rights activists have warned that religious minorities – particularly Christians – are often caught in the crossfire, with such accusations used to settle personal scores.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES