The Weekend Leader - Protests over Asia Bibi's acquittal called off

Protests over Asia Bibi's acquittal called off



A radical Islamist group on Saturday called off protests in Pakistan against the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, who had been charged with blasphemy.

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has the end to the protests which brought the country to a standstill since October 30, reports Dawn news.

The announcement comes after the TLP and the government reached an agreement to conclude the latter's nationwide protests, with the government promising to immediately initiate a legal process to place Asia Bibi's name on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The government has also said that it would not oppose the complainants from seeking a review of the Supreme Court's judgment in the Asia Bibi blasphemy case.

The TLP has in turn apologised if it "hurt the sentiments or inconvenienced anyone without reason".

Meanwhile, motorways and highways were open for traffic, the Motorway Police announced on Saturday.

However, they cautioned commuters to refrain from unnecessary travel on these routes due to the "volatile and unpredictable" situation in the country.

The Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday set off violent protests and sit-ins by hardliners. 

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, was accused by two women of insulting Prophet Muhammad in 2009 and a court sentenced her to death in 2010, with the verdict being upheld four years later by the Lahore High Court.

The anti-blasphemy law was introduced in British colonial times to avoid religious clashes, but in the 1980s several reforms promoted by the dictator Zia-ul-Haq led to the abuse of the law.

Since then, there have been around 1,000 accusations of blasphemy, a crime that in Pakistan can lead to capital punishment, although nobody has ever been executed for it.-IANS

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