The 18-year-old daughter of a Christian Pakistani woman who faced the death penalty for blasphemy has issued a plea for her mother to be allowed to leave Pakistan.
Asia Bibi, having languished for over eight years on death row after being blasted by fellow villagers for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed, was finally cleared of the charges by the country’s Supreme Court last year, but people took to the streets to furiously appeal the verdict. The large-scale riots prompted authorities to take Bibi into protective custody, raising fears in the family over the woman’s security and well-being in her home country.
“I am missing her so much, I think about her all the time, and I speak to her on the phone all the time. I say to her, ‘Have faith in God, because if God can release you from jail, God can release you from where you are now. He will bring you out’”, her youngest daughter Eisham Ashiq said to The Mail on Sunday in an exclusive interview from her secret location in Canada.
Eisham has been living with her older sister Esha since December and last hugged her mother nine years ago, before the woman was detained, and visited her while she was in prison back in October.
“I could touch her hands and kiss and shake her hands, but could not hug her”, Eisham shared, referring to her meeting her mother through prison bars.
Although a petition against the Supreme Court decision clearing Bibi was rejected outright in January and the formerly charged has since become a free woman, religious mobs persist in their attempts to track her down, with the family considering the risk of her being attacked will grow the longer she stays in Pakistan.
Hence, in February, conflicting reports emerged over the woman’s whereabouts, with a close friend of Bibi’s family claiming she had been moved to some new “secure area” in the country, having been banned from leaving it altogether. Meanwhile, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that, quoting lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, the woman had already arrived in Canada with her husband and united with the rest of her family hiding there. However, the fresh interview to The Mail seems to contradict Bibi’s reunification with the family.
“When she comes, I will hug her and kiss her, and that day will be a very special day when my mummy arrives, and I know I will be very happy, and will thank God before anything else”, Bibi’s daughter proceeded.
“At the moment, she has security, but she could face problems any moment, any time, and it could happen very quickly”, Eisham said, though not specifying her mother’s precise whereabouts.
Asia Bibi found herself on death row after her neighbours brought blasphemy charges against her over allegedly making derogatory comments about Islam. The latter happened following a row that broke out when Bibi’s fellow village women refused to drink water from the same cup as her due to her being Christian.