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TLP, govt agree on putting Asia Bibi on ECL. But hasn’t she already left for Canada?

There were reports of Asia Bibi having left for Canada earlier today. CNN, quoting martyred Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s son Shaan Taseer, reported earlier today that Asia Bibi had reunited with her family in Canada. Whatsapp messages were in circulation since yesterday that at around 1600 hours on November 1, a helicopter picked Asia and her family from Sheikhupura and had left Pakistan.

On the other hand, an agreement between Pakistan government and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) supporters has a clause that the government will make arrangements for putting Asia’s name on Exit Control List (ECL). But if Asia has already left Pakistan, how does putting her name on ECL help?

Naya Daur has learnt that Asia Bibi might not have left for Canada or any other country as yet and could in fact still be in Pakistan. And according to Shaan too, it must be in Pakistan that she’d have been reunited with her family after having spent over 9 years in an 8×10 cell in a Pakistani jail.

Shaan Taseer categorically stated on his Facebook that his interview at CNN had been misinterpreted and that Asia was still in Pakistan.

Talking to Naya Daur, Christian Times CEO Yeshwa Younis said that Asia Bibi was still in Pakistan and there was no chance of her going to Canada in future as well. “I am in contact with all the MPs here who work on such issues and I can confirm that neither has Asia come to Canada nor is there much probability right now that she might come to Canada in future as well”.

Younis told that Asia Noreen’s case had been primarily taken up by European Union and the pope had himself remained involved in the case throughout. “So if she moves out of Pakistan, she would most likely go to some country in Europe instead of coming to Canada or the United States. There’s no activity on the government level in Canada that would suggest that Asia might even seek asylum in Canada”.

It is pertinent to mention here that EU has keenly pursued Asia Bibi’s case since the very first day. In January 2018, it had conveyed to Islamabad in categorical terms that the renewal of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status in Europe was linked with a positive outcome on Asia Bibi’s case, according to media reports.

However, despite all these denials it is still quite possible that Asia has already left Pakistan. In Rimsha Masih’s case as well, the girl after having been acquitted by the court in a completely unfounded charge was huddled along with her family in a helicopter and immediately taken out of the country. So while the rights activists claim that Asia is still in Pakistan, it is not entirely unlikely that she has already landed somewhere in Europe.

And if she has, this clause of the agreement might spark another round of protests in the country in near future. But this time, the protesters will direct all their anger towards the government alone because the agreement was signed by the ministers of Law and Religious Affairs, with no guarantors named on the paper at least.


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