Pakistan shuts phone networks as anti-blasphemy protests spread


On the other hand, the ongoing protests against the Supreme Court (SC) verdict in Asia Bibi case have badly affected the timings of trains across the country.

Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging in November 2010 in the lower court in Nanka district, a verdict confirmed four years later by the Lahore High Court. "We knew that she is innocent", said Ashiq Masih.

Though Asia Bibi walks free from prison, not everyone involved with her case has escaped violence.

"It seems that things are still boiling", he advises, "but it seems a bit under control by the government at the moment".

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Islamists blocked a key road linking the capital, Islamabad, with the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Thursday, demanding that Ms. Bibi be publicly hanged.

Bibi's acquittal immediately raised fears of religious violence - and presented a challenge to the government.

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Pakistani lawyers who are contesting the case against Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, speaks to media outside the Supreme court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on October 31, 2018.

"We are ready to die to show our love for the prophet", he told an emotionally charged rally in Lahore.

Such protests will distract Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, which is attempting to deal with an economy in crisis owing to dwindling finances.

Ghulam Mustafa, a lawyer representing a provincial cleric in Punjab who had filed the initial blasphemy charges against Bibi, petitioned the Supreme Court, requesting the judges review her acquittal.

In his speech Pakistani Premier said: "I'm here only because a Supreme Court verdict was announced today".

Officials said talks with the protesters were ongoing ahead of nationwide protests set to kick off after Friday prayers - the holiest day of the Islamic week and a time when the size of demonstrations can often swell.

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Security has been stepped up near the facility where Ms Bibi is being held, authorities said. "Will they let me out, really?" she said.

But for now, Asia Bibi's nine-year legal ordeal appears to be over, though new problems, namely new threats against her life, now present themselves. Her family was also in hiding, waiting for Bibi's release so they could leave Pakistan. He would not disclose the country of Ms. Bibi's destination but both France and Spain have offered her asylum.

New prime minister Imran Khan has cautiously sided with liberals, saying in a televised address that protesters were inciting people for their own political gain and saying they "are doing no service to Islam".

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP chief and the main force behind the protests, called for the assassination of the chief justice who acquitted Bibi. Not only that, the government has apparently chose to file a review against the Supreme Court's decision!

In 2009, the farm worker and mother of five from the small town of Itan Wali was arrested for blasphemy over an argument with some Muslim co-workers who allegedly claimed they couldn't drink from a cup of water she had touched, as her Christian faith contaminated it.

She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy.

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