No mention of Asia Bibi's name in UK correspondence with Pakistan 2009-2018

Mon 13 May 2019
By Cara Bentley

It's been found that there was no mention of Asia Bibi's imprisonment in writing between 2009 and 2018 between UK missions in Islamabad and London.

Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman from Pakistan, was sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam and freed after international outcry and her legal acquittal in the Pakistani High court last October.

She was in prison, facing death, for nearly a decade before she was finally freed last month and flown to Canada. 



Although many UK MPs have repeatedly brought up her case in parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticised for not offering Asia Bibi asylum in the UK. May has always insisted that the UK were in conversation with other allies to decide the best place for Asia Bibi and her family to stay.

The government has now been criticised for not being as interested in her case from the start as it has seemed in the last year. 

A freedom of information request was submitted by Luke de Pulford, a campaigner for Asia Bibi and founder of the anti-slavery charity Arise foundation. 

He told Premier Christian Radio's News Hour it seemed 'obvious' to him that the foreign office had been dragging their heels in calling out the persecution of Christians and wanted to find out for sure.

"What I found out it that it had only come up after the story had hit the headlines last October when she was acquitted. So, it shows she hadn't been mentioned a single time between 2009 and 2018, despite the fact that politicians around the world, and in our own parliament, had been campaigning on Asia Bibi's behalf non-stop in the intervening period."

He said it didn't surprise him as he'd heard anecdotally that the UK and other foreign governments were ignoring comments about mistreatment. 

In a statement the Foreign Office said it has raised the Asia Bibi case with the Pakistan government for a number of years.

He added that he was 'fairly sure' her case would have been raised in verbal meetings but that he was disappointed it had not been mentioned in diplomatic telegrams, or confidential messages between embassies, despite being a big case. 

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