–FO spokesman, info minister reject ‘fake news’ suggesting former blasphemy convict has fled country after release from prison
–Spokesman says there’s no restriction on Aasia’s mobility, she’s being kept at a ‘safe place’
–Info Minister Fawad terms media reports ‘baseless’, urges caution against spreading fake news
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Thursday rejected reports making rounds in the local and international media that Aasia Bibi had left the country, saying the recently acquitted Christian woman was still in Pakistan.
In a weekly press conference, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal rubbished as “fake news”, media reports that the former blasphemy convict has left the country after she was freed from Multan prison late on Wednesday night.
He 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).
FAWAD SLAMS MEDIA FOR ‘FAKE NEWS’:
Separately, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry slammed some media organisations for running the “fake news” regarding Bibi leaving the country.
“It has become a norm to publish fake news for sake of headlines, #AasiaBibi case is a 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,” he tweeted.
Sources close to Bibi’s family, while talking to Pakistan Today, also rejected media reports that she has gone abroad, maintaining that she was taken to Islamabad where she and her family is in protective custody. The sources further claimed that she and her family might go abroad on Friday.
Aasia was released from Multan jail late Wednesday night, and shifted to a safe place under the cover of the night soon after an order for her release arrived Wednesday at the jail in Multan where she was held. A civil aviation official, in Multan, said a small plane arrived in the city with “a few foreigners and some Pakistanis” on board to fetch Aasia.
“Aasia Bibi has left the prison and has been transferred to a safe place!” Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, had tweeted.
According to the reports, the aircraft carrying Aasia Bibi landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad adjacent to Nur Khan Air Base. 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.
Aasia Bibi’s acquittal had sparked countrywide protests by religious parties and groups, with most parts of the country facing a lock down situation for almost three days. A few days after the government and protesters mainly led by the TLP reached a deal, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the riots and ordered the federal and provincial governments to submits their reports on the loss of life or property of citizens.