Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday denied reports that Aasia Bibi had left Pakistan, saying the recently acquitted Christian woman was still in the country.
Aasia Bibi was released from Multan jail last night — more than 10 days after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction and death sentence.
Shortly after the FO’s clarification, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry called out the “irresponsible” behaviour of some media outlets for running the news of Aasia Bibi allegedly leaving the country without “confirmation”.
“It has become a norm to publish fake news for sake of headlines,” Fawad Chaudhry said on Twitter. “Aasia Bibi case is sensitive
issue; it was extremely irresponsible to publish news of her leaving the country without confirmation. I strongly urge section of media to act responsible.” Fawad Chaudhry
The statements by FO and Chaudhry come on the heels of news reports from a day earlier which stated that Aasia Bibi had left Multan’s women prison and was being flown to an “unknown destination”. This particular quote, attributed to Aasia Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook, led to speculation that she had left the country.
The aircraft carrying Aasia Bibi landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad adjacent to Nur Khan Air Base, said sources. From there, she was taken to an undisclosed place in Islamabad amid tight security. The authorities are keeping her movement and whereabouts secret for security reasons.
Dr Faisal, during a press briefing at noon on Thursday, reiterated that Aasia Bibi was in Pakistan and “in a safe place”. “The media should verify such news before running it.
“Aasia Bibi is a free citizen. After the court’s verdict, she can go wherever she wants. There is no restriction on the mobility of a free citizen,” said Dr Faisal, adding that only the interior ministry or the law could specify if legally her name could be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).