Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar announced the verdict on Monday to a packed courtroom and ordered Asia Bibi released, declaring Asia Bibi innocent. The decision followed the hearing of Asia Bibi’s final appeal by a Supreme Court judicial panel on Oct. 8, 2018.
In perhaps Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy case, Asia Bibi was arrested and imprisoned in June 2009 on allegation of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, following an argument with Muslim women over her use of a drinking vessel meant for Muslims. The following year she was sentenced to death. As reported by Vatican news, Noting that many Muslims are also victims of the blasphemy laws, Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf, the national director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that the verdict is beneficial for all the citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of whether they are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or of other faiths. The priest invoked blessings on the judges for delivering justice. He also invoked blessings on the nation saying Muslims, Christians and other, all are citizens of Pakistan and love their country. He said they need to continue praying for their nation.
Influential Punjab governor Salman Taseer and the Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, were both assassinated in 2011 after they defended Asia Bibi and spoke out against her death sentence and the misuse of the blasphemy laws.