ISLAMABAD: The lawyer who saved a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy from the gallows left the country on Saturday, saying his life was under threat.

Saiful Mulook’s latest victory saw the freeing of Aasia Bibi, who spent nearly a decade on death row, after the Supreme Court overturned her sentence on Wednesday.

The decision sparked protests across the country, with major roads blocked in Lahore and Islamabad.

“In this scenario, it’s not possible for me to live in Pakistan,” the 62-year-old said before boarding a plane to Europe early on Saturday morning.

“I need to stay alive as I still have to fight the legal battle for Aasia Bibi,” he said.

Husband urges government to ensure foolproof security to her

On Friday night, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which had largely led the demonstrations, announced an end to mass protests after reaching a deal with the government.

When asked about the protests, Mr Mulook said it was “unfortunate but not unexpected”.

“What’s painful is the response of the government. They cannot even implement an order of the country’s highest court,” he said, adding that “the struggle for justice must continue”.

According to the agreement reached between the TLP and the government, legal proceedings will follow to impose a travel ban on Aasia Bibi.

“Her life would be more or less the same, either inside a prison or in solitary confinement for security fears” until a decision on the appeal, said Mr Mulook.

Ashiq Masih slams deal

Separately, the husband of Aasia Bibi criticised the government’s deal with the TLP, and called on authorities to protect her.

“It is wrong to set a precedent in which you pile pressure onto the judiciary,” Ashiq Masih told German Deutsche Welle radio.

He said the government should never have yielded to pressure from protesters.

Masih said the court had been “very courageous” to acquit his wife.

“The current situation is very dangerous for us. We have no security and are hiding here and there, frequently changing our location,” Masih said.

He demanded the government reinforce Aasia’s protection in prison, worrying that she might be attacked.

He cited the case of two Christian men who were shot dead after a court acquitted them in another blasphemy case.

“The situation is dangerous for Aasia. I feel that her life is not secure,” he said. “So I appeal to government to enhance Aasia’s security in jail.”

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018