Asia Bibi's lawyer arrives in Netherlands after fleeing Pakistan
The lawyer who represented Asia Bibi, a Christian woman recently acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan after spending eight years on death row, fled from Pakistan to the Netherlands. He has been sheltered by the Foundation for Assistance to Persecuted Christians since Saturday. According to the lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, he did not want to leave Pakistan, but the UN urged him to as he is the target of death threats, NOS reprots.
Asia Bibi was on death row for eight years because a neighbor accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a quarrel. The Supreme Court in Pakistan recently acquitted her due to a lack of evidence, but extremist Muslim demonstrators still want to see Bib publicly hanged. Her lawyer and family are facing these same threats.
Lawyer Ul-Malook called Bibi's acquittal a historic moment. He is delighted that the Supreme court looked only at the evidence, despite pressure from society. Bibi's fate from here on is still unclear, however. To end the demonstrations against her, the Pakistani government singed a deal with religious party TLP. The agreement states that the party can submit a petition requesting that the Supreme Court revise its judgment, and the government will put Bibi on a list of people who can not leave the country.
But Ul-Malook believes that there's not much the Pakistani government can do to stop Bibi from leaving. She was still in prison when Ul-Malook last spoke to her on Saturday. But as soon as she is released - it usually takes a week to 10 days according to the lawyer - it would be illegal to stop her from leaving the country, he said. Bibi wants to leave the country with her family. Her husband recently sent a video message to Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain asking for her help.
A majority of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, supports offering shelter to Bibi while she and her family decide where they want to rebuild their lives. Ul-Malook could not say where Bibi plans to go. He was looking for a safe country for her, but a UN delegate in Pakistan took the matter out of his hands. "I'm not happy that I am here without her, but I had become a primary target and had to flee", the lawyer said, according to NOS. The UN envoy told him they were working on a destination for Bibi, but would say nothing further for safety reasons.
The lawyer came to the Netherlands through Italy. He came here because of his contact with the Foundation. He plans to apply for asylum.