The final ruling of the Pakistan Supreme Court on the fate of Aasiya Noreen, “Asia Bibi”, a Catholic mother of five from Pakistan who has been in prison for nine years, is around the corner.

Asia Bibi was found guilty of blasphemy in 2010 due to a comment she made about Mohammed, the founder of Islam, which carries the death sentence under Section 295 C of Pakistan’s Penal Code.

However, throughout proceedings, Asia Bibi has insisted that she did not insult the Muslim Prophet Mohammad.

On Monday, 8th October 2018, during the final hearing of the case, there was a protest outside calling for the death sentence to be upheld but proceedings ended with a verdict still pending.

Speaking on behalf of Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih and daughter, Eisham Ashiq, Father Emmanuel Yousaf said the Supreme Court’s decision could be announced within a few days.

Father Yousaf, who is with Eisham and Ashiq Masih in the UK for events organised by the UK National Office of Aid to the Church in Need, said: “Although the judges didn’t give a judgement, this has happened in many cases of this kind in the past – and they still ended positively. We will have to wait a few days but we are confident that things will go well.”

Fr Yousaf said: “There is no decision – we are hanging in the air – but God willing it will soon be over and [Asia Bibi] will be back home with the family.”

He added: “[The judgement] may come tomorrow. It may come after two or three days but I am positive it will be favourable.”

Renewing calls for prayers for Asia Bibi’s release, Fr Yousaf said: “We have prayed 10 years now for our sister, Asia, and I am confident that our prayers will be heard, and the judgement will go in favour of Asia, her family and the entire Pakistani Christian community.”

Adding his voice to the call for prayers, ACN’s project partner, the Dominican Father James Channan, said “It is our firm hope that, thanks to continuous prayer she can be released. I pray that Asia may be released soon and may reunite with her family members who have lived many years of pain and anguish. If she is released, it will also give great relief to all those who, in the world, have felt deeply involved in this case, praying for her, so that this innocent woman may finally have justice”.

The Dominican observes: “Today we also remember those who were killed because of the support given to Asia Bibi: former governor of the Punjab province, the Muslim Salman Taseer and the Catholic leader Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs. We hope their sacrifice was not in vain”.

ACN Malta