Pakistan (MNN) – Asia Bibi has faced a long road to freedom following her arrest based on blasphemy charges in 2009. In late 2018 Bibi was acquitted of those charges yet remained in custody for her protection. In January, Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejected a petition requesting the reconsideration of Bibi’s blasphemy charges.
Asia Bibi Relocated
Now, confirmations have surfaced that Asia Bibi has relocated to Canada. BBC NEWS reports that Pakistan’s government officials have not released information detailing Bibi’s exact location or when she left. What seems to be clear, though, is that after nearly a decade of maintaining her innocence, Bibi has finally reunited with her family and can start the process of moving forward in her life.
However, Bibi’s acquittal and relocation are not equivalent to safety, even if she is safer now than when she was in Pakistan. As Bibi adjusts to a new normal, FMI’s Bruce Allen urges Christians across the globe to let their questions of “Where is Asia” fizzle.
“It’s not going to be helpful for Asia Bibi, and we really don’t benefit from it either. The only people who would benefit from that specific knowledge would be the people who are still hunting her down to kill her,” Allen says.
Need for Reform
Furthermore, Bibi’s acquittal and relocation do not signal the end of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. FMI’s Bruce Allen explains how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws still need reform and people are still imprisoned in the country on blasphemy charges.
“There are scores of Christians languishing in prisons inside Pakistan who have been charged with blasphemy. And that automatically carries a death sentence upon conviction. There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Allen says.
Pakistan is currently ranked #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List (WWL). The WWL is a ranking of the top 50 countries where it is most severe to live as a Christian. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) each year since 2002. It was designated as a CPC for the first time in November 2018. Find the 2019 USCIRF report here.
How to Help
Bottom line—should we rejoice for Asia’s release? Absolutely. But there is still work to be done. Will you pray?
“We still need to pray that God would move in the hearts of the Pakistani lawmakers of the government to reform these laws to bring true justice to all of their citizens,” Allen says.
Not sure how else to help Christians in Pakistan? Allen suggests beginning by encouraging the Pakistani Church. If an encouraging message is left on the Mission Network News Facebook page, Allen will make sure to pass the note along to FMI’s Pakistani partners, which then trickles through the churches.
Another way to help is by empowering national Christians to continue their ministry. FMI helps supplement partners’ ministry costs, with the goal to make them self-sufficient in the future. Christians outside of Pakistan can help FMI support these ministries and supply resources for Sunday school classes or vacation Bible schools by giving a financial donation.
To give to FMI, click here.
Header photo courtesy of FMI