After 10 years of political turmoil, assassinations and violent demonstrations, Asia Bibi’s exit from Pakistan was met largely with silence, as the country appeared to seek a quiet close to a turbulent chapter.
Even as the Christian woman’s flight to safety in Canada made international headlines on Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government said nothing.
It was left to a foreign ministry spokesman to confirm her departure yesterday, with Mohammad Faisal telling journalists Bibi had left the country “at her own will” as he declined to say anything further.
The silence echoed across the country’s usually rambunctious media, with most newspapers glossing over the episode and primetime television shows offering it only a passing mention.
It was a jarring contrast to the violent protests staged by hardliners against Bibi in recent years, including last October, when the Supreme Court overturned her death sentence for blasphemy. Islamists took to the streets at the time calling for mutiny in the armed forces and the assassination of the country’s top judges.
“The government clearly doesn’t want there to be a reaction from violent mobs,” said Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International.