Christian mother Asia Bibi has finally left Pakistan

Asia Bibi has finally left Pakistan after a decade-long ordealWorld Watch Monitor

Christian mother Asia Bibi has finally departed from Pakistan, where she spent nearly a decade on death row.

She has gone to Canada where her two daughters have already been living since last year after being granted asylum.

Her lawyder Saif Ul Malook confirmed the news to The Guardian, saying it was a "big day" for her and her family. 

"Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family," he said. 

Bibi was charged with blasphemy after sharing a cup of water with Muslim farmworkers, who called her unclean because she was a Christian.

She was sentenced to death in 2010 but after an appeals process lasting years, was finally acquitted last October and freed from prison. 

Although she was released from prison last November, she had to wait much longer for true freedom when she was forced into hiding following death threats and nationwide protests calling for her execution. 

It was feared she would be trapped in the country for years when opponents launched a legal challenge against the Supreme Court's decision to acquit her.  But in January, the courts upheld the original ruling, paving the way for her to leave the country.  

Release International CEO Paul Robinson questioned why it had taken so long for her to be able to leave the country.

"We are overjoyed that Asia is finally free. But why has it taken so long for this innocent woman to be allowed to leave?" he said.

"The government of Pakistan must act now to safeguard its Christian minority against mob reprisals by stepping up security against any suggestion of rioting and violence.

"And it must urgently review the case against every other prisoner who has been accused and jailed for blasphemy."

Henrietta Blyth, head of Open Doors UK and Ireland said, "We are overjoyed that after years of unjust imprisonment and uncertainty while under protective custody, this devout Christian woman has finally been able to embrace her freedom.

"It has been a long and extremely difficult journey for her and her family. Asia Bibi's steadfast faith is a true inspiration to millions of Pakistani Christians and to all of us worshipping freely here in the UK."

Following news of her departure, Release International is asking Pakistan to free 200 other Christians behind bars for blasphemy.

Release partners say there are 218 other Christians still facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan. 

The organisation warns that they and their entire families are at risk of violence at the hands of vigilantes prepared to take the law into their own hands.

Mr Robinson called for an urgent review of the blasphemy laws. 

"In the Asia Bibi case, the Supreme Court revealed what Release has been saying for years, that accusations of blasphemy can be malicious and built on lies, simply to settle scores," he said.

"These blasphemy cases – and the blasphemy law itself – must now come under review."

British Pakistani Christian Association Chairman, Wilson Chowdhry, echoed the calls for reform of the blasphemy laws, which he called "draconian".

He said he had last spoken with Mrs Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih on Sunday and that the couple had remained faithful despite repeated delays to their departure from Pakistan. 

"Ashiq has always remained hopeful of an imminent release from Pakistan and we have both been shocked at how long it has taken," he said. 

"Asia Bibi and Ashiq have remained resolute in their faith and have prayed daily for their release and today God has answered their prayers.

"BPCA are grateful that we have been able to be a part of this family's journey to freedom and will continue to pray for them and assist them where we can."

British Pakistani Christian Association said it was continuing to support 15 other Christians accused of blasphemy listed below:

Report on Blasphemy victims still in jail
Shugafta & Shafqat
Accusation of sending blasphemous message
Shezad Masih
Using Blasphemous words
Qaiser Ayub
Using Blasphemous words
Sawan Masih
Blasphemous comments
Imran Masih
Blasphemous video in phone
Nabeel Masih
Posting a derogatory image on social media
Perzvaiz Masih
Using blasphemous words
Patras Masih
Posting a derogatory image on social media
Awais Qamar
Using PVC banner with religious words as carpet
Humayun Faisal
Burnt shreds of the Quran in a pile of garbage
Ishfaq Masih
Using blasphemous words
Asif Stephen
Burning of Quran
Nadeem Masih
Blasphemous poem through text message
Yaqoob Bashir
Burning booklet containing Quranic verses