Pakistan government was criticized yesterday for reaching a controversial deal with protesting Islamist hardliners, who were incensed by the acquittal of a Christian woman for blasphemy, as some critics said the move resembles "another surrender”.
The deal put the fate of Asia Bibi, the woman accused of blasphemy, in limbo as government allowed Islamist hardliners to appeal against her acquittal and put her on a no fly list.
Asia Bibi's lawyer who saved her from the gallows left the country early yesterday after threats to his life.
Bibi, who had been on death row since 2010, was acquitted of all charges by Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday, triggering protests by Islamist hardliners who paralysed the country for three days blocking roads and disrupting traffic in major cities.
The protesters however ended their action Friday night after the government reached a controversial deal to put Bibi on the no fly list and saying it would not object to an appeal against the verdict, which was filed earlier in the Supreme Court.
Pakistani media criticised the government for caving in to the Islamist hardliners after Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier appeared to stand up to them following the court verdict.
Dawn, the country's oldest newspaper, blasted the deal as "another surrender" in an editorial yesterday.
"Yet another government has capitulated to violent religious extremists who neither believe in democracy, nor the constitution," it read.
Blasphemy is a massively inflammatory charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammed can provoke death at the hands of vigilantes.