Acquittal of Asia Bibi sparks protests by right wing parties in Pakistan

SC acquits woman on death row for blasphemy

Islamabad: The acquittal of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, convicted of blasphemy, by the Supreme Court has led to protests by religious right wing in different cities of Pakistan with hardliners denouncing it.

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party workers besides certain other religio-political parties had asked its workers to assemble at already marked spots on Wednesday morning to record their protest if the court orders the release of Asia Bibi, a report in Pakistan daily Dawn said.

Denouncing the court verdict, another outfit– Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman, who is also the president of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), urged for “peaceful” demonstrations against the acquittal. The decision had been taken on the behest of some foreign powers, he alleged, adding the release is not acceptable at any cost.”

Following the verdict, people assembled around Faizabad Interchange in Rawalpindi and blocked it. Roads surrounding Aabpara area in Islamabad have also been closed by protesters.

TLP workers led by their chief Allama Khadim Rizvi — who on Oct 13 had threatened to “paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Asia Bibi free” — are holding a protest sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly Hall in Lahore. Another sit-in at Data Darbar is being held since last night.

In Sargodha, agitation forced people to close shops and businesses before holding a protest sit-in at 12 Block Chowk. Sheikhupura, Kamonki, Kasur and other districts have been shut down completely.

Protests have also been reported from Karachi, the economic nerve of the country, where sit-ins have been staged at Hub River Road — linking Sindh to Balochistan, Sohrab Goth — linking Karachi to Hyderabad, Tower area, Main MA Jinnah Road near Numaish Chowrangi, Orangi Town, Star Gate and other areas of the city.
Security of minorities’ religious places have been beefed up in Jacobabad after panic gripped the city after the verdict.

Reports of protests are coming in from Peshawar as well.

The federal capital was put on high alert on Tuesday night as Rangers and Frontier Constabulary were called in. Security of the Judges Enclave and the Diplomatic Enclave has been handed over to Rangers.

About 300 police personnel, along with paramilitary units, were deployed at the SC building, adjacent to Parliament House on Constitution Avenue.

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