Foreign Office confirms talks between Pakistan, Canada over Aasia Bibi

Updated November 13, 2018

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Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal. — File
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal. — File

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed Aasia Bibi, recently freed from prison following the overturning of her blasphemy conviction by the Supreme Court, in a phone call with his Canadian counterpart on Monday, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed on Tuesday.

"[The] Canadian FM appreciated [the] Supreme Court's courageous decision and [the] Prime Minister's positive speech," the tweet added.

In a second tweet, the FO spokesperson added: "FM Qureshi said that Aasia Bibi is our national and Pakistan fully respects her legal rights".

The confirmation of talks between the two governments on the issue came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said his government was talking to Pakistan over potentially offering asylum to Aasia Bibi.

“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau had said in an interview to AFP in Paris, where he was attending a peace conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don't want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he said.

Aasia Bibi has been 'taken under protection' by the Pakistani state after the overturning of her conviction prompted a wave of protests by religio-political groups.

After her release from prison, she has been flown to a “safe place”. Several governments have offered to grant her family asylum.

Her husband has appealed in particular to Britain, Canada and the United States, claiming that Aasia Bibi's life would be in danger as long as she lives in Pakistan.

FM Qureshi meets with Dr Aafia Siddiqui's sister, discuss possible ways forward for her "repatriation"

FM Qureshi also met Dr Aafia Siddiqui's sister on Tuesday in Islamabad and informed her about the government's efforts regarding her sister's case, Radio Pakistan reported.

Dr Aafia was convicted in 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault of United States personnel and is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. It is a US federal prison for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs.

In a tweet shared on Tuesday, FM Qureshi said that he had asked the Pakistani Consul General in Houston to seek regular consular visits and to "ensure Dr [Aafia] Siddiqui's well being in line with her legal and human rights".

Qureshi added that he had assured Dr Fauzia Siddiqui of his "full support" and said that the two had also discussed possible ways forward for Dr Aafia's return.