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Blasphemy case: Pak SC sets aside death sentence of Christian woman Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi, a labourer, was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed in 2009 by Muslim women she was working within a field.

SNS | Islamabad |

In a landmark judgement, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was charged in a blasphemy case in 2010.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Nankana area of Punjab province, was convicted of blasphemy in 2009 and has been on death row since 2010.

Bibi, a labourer, was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed by Muslim women she was working within a field. The high-profile case has divided Pakistan and drawn prayers from the Vatican.

Her death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court in 2014 following which she lodged an appeal in the apex court.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday started hearing the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi.

A special three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel took up the appeal of the mother of five against the execution.

Asia Bibi has already spent eight years in prison and her family has been subjected to continuous threats and harassment.

Soon after the acquittal, scores of people took to streets and launched massive protests against the verdict.

The protests also witnessed violent outbursts as agitators burned tyres in areas of Karachi.

In the wake of widespread protests, Section 144 has been imposed in Punjab Province from October 31 to November 10, barring public gatherings in public places.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, which introduced the draconian laws in 1985 in a bid to appease right-wing parties. These laws have been often alleged to have been misused to settle personal scores

Militants also target people blamed for blasphemy or those demanding changes to them

Punjab’s liberal governor Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 when he termed the regulations “black law” after meeting Asia Bibi after her conviction.