–Imran tells Modi Kashmir issue ‘cannot keep boiling’
–Premier says it’s time to get rid of banned militant outfits
Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy in October 2018 after spending eight years on death row, will be leaving Pakistan “very soon” after much uncertainty, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an informal chat with a group of American and British journalists in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Speaking to a BBC journalist, PM Imran Khan assured Aasia Bibi’s safety and promised her departure from the country in the light of threats to her life. However, he said he couldn’t disclose all details to media over “a little bit complication”.
Aasia was accused of blasphemy in 2009 after she had an argument with a group of Muslim women. She was sentenced to death in 2010 by a lower court and the same was upheld by the Lahore High Court in response to her appeal in 2014.
In 2015, the Supreme Court had issued a stay order on her execution in July, leading her freedom in a few years. After top court upheld her acquittal in Jan 2019, she was transferred from a secret location near Islamabad to another in Karachi.
An AP news agency report on Feb 10 quotes a relative of Aasia who managed to flee the country, saying: “[Aasia] Bibi still faces death threats, [she] is frustrated and frightened, uncertain of when she will be able to leave Pakistan.”
KASHMIR ISSUE NEEDS TO BE RESOLVED:
Besides Aasia, the prime minister also expressed the desire of peace with India by resolving the Kashmir conflict, as it could not be left “boiling like this”. He said peace with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir would be “tremendous” for the wider region.
“The nuclear-armed neighbours could only settle their differences with dialogue. He said if India had come back and then again attacked Pakistan, Pakistan would have no choice but to respond,” BBC quoted him saying.
He also reiterated what he said in his first address as the prime minister: number-one task for the two governments is how… to reduce poverty …by settling our differences through dialogue.
He also commented on the existence of terror outfits in Pakistan with a New York Times journalist, who quotes him: “We have decided, for the future of our country — forget the outside pressure — we will not allow armed militias to operate anymore.’’
“The Pakistan Army created them,’’ the NYT quotes him, “but, there is no use for these groups anymore.’’
When asked by the NYT whether he or the country’s military establishment controls Pakistan, the premier said that they work “closely”.