ISLAMABAD: The federal capital was put on high alert on Tuesday night as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court is expected to deliver its verdict on the final appeal for stay of Aasia Bibi’s execution in a blasphemy case on Wednesday (today).

Sources in the administration told Dawn that Rangers and Frontier Constabulary had been called as part of measures to step up security in Islamabad. Security of the Judges Enclave and the Diplomatic Enclave has been handed over to Rangers.

The SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, had on Oct 8 reserved its judgement on the final appeal against the execution of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. She was convicted under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code on a charge of uttering derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in 2009.

The Lahore High Court had upheld her conviction by the trial court and retained her death sentence in October 2014. The Supreme Court had admitted her appeal for hearing in July 2015.

On Oct 13 this year, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a religio-political party headed by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, threatened to “paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Aasia Bibi free”.

In 2011, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who had spoken out in support of Aasia Bibi, was gunned down in Islamabad. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder.

The sources said security personnel had been asked to guard the Red Zone as it houses sensitive installations, including the Supreme Court.

The decision to take stringent security measures was made after a number of meetings held to thrash out a strategy to deal with any unforeseen situation after the verdict.

According to the sources, when some senior police officers met officials of the apex court, the law enforcers were asked to adopt security measures for the Supreme Court and other key points.

About 300 police personnel, along with paramilitary units, will guard the SC building, adjacent to Parliament House on Constitution Avenue.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2018

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