Wednesday Nov 07, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi on Wednesday assured that the federal government will uphold the Supreme Court’s verdict and not place Asia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) until she is proven guilty.
During an interview with the Voice of America, the minister of state for interior while speaking about the recent country-wide protests following the top court verdict acquitting Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, said, “Among the protesters there was a group of people who were damaging property for their own personal gains and agenda.”
The minister of state for interior said the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders, who the government signed an agreement with to end the demonstrations, refused that the miscreants were party members. “When we informed the TLP leaders of the miscreants and showed them footage, they refused to accept that those rioters belonged to the party,” he added.
Regarding the arrests of rioters, Afridi said, “Those arrested will be treated in a legal manner. I assure you there will no compromise on the supremacy of law.”
“It is the prime minister and other officials’ clear stance that there will be no compromise if anyone breaks or challenges the law,” he asserted.
Speaking about the agreement which stated that “due process will be followed immediately to include the name of Asia Bibi in ECL”, Afridi said, “The government will uphold whatever the Supreme Court decides.”
“If someone cannot be proven guilty then how can we place their name on ECL? There can be no question about that,” the minister of state for interior upheld.
He further said, “All Pakistanis no matter which religion or school of thought they belong to are the responsibility of the state. No one can be given the license to play with lives or property.”
“Asia Bibi and her family is in Pakistan and they are being given security by the government,” he added.
The Supreme Court on October 31 acquitted Bibi after blasphemy charges could not be proven against her and ordered her immediate release.
Following the verdict, protests had erupted in several cities across the country and property was damaged and vehicles set on fire in some places. The demonstrations saw closure of schools, colleges and universities, as well as cancellation of examinations.
The government and the protesters from different religious groups, led by TLP, reached an agreement two days later on Friday, November 2. As per the agreement, the government will raise no objections over the review petition over Bibi's acquittal. The agreement further stated that due process will be followed immediately to include the name of Asia Bibi in ECL.