Woman awaits pardon in blasphemy case

Nov. 24, 2010 at 2:46 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- A Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan has not yet been pardoned despite assurance she will be, officials said.

Two representatives of President Asif Ali Zardari said Wednesday no action has been taken in the matter of Asia Bibi, facing a death sentence for blasphemy, but that the president will pardon if necessary, CNN reported.

"No decision has been taken," spokesman Farhatullah Babar said. "Under the constitution, the president has to act under the advice of the prime minister. He will advise the president to take whatever action he proposes."

Bibi was convicted in a Pakistani court earlier this month and sentenced to death for breaking the country's controversial blasphemy law by insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

On Tuesday, the governor of Punjab province said Zardari would pardon Bibi.

"What basically he's made it clear is that she's not going to be a victim of this law," Gov. Salman Taseer told CNN.

"I mean, he's a liberal, modern-minded president and he's not going to see a poor woman like this targeted and executed. ... It's just not going to happen," Taseer said.

An investigation showed Bibi was falsely accused, a government official said Monday.

"The president asked me to investigate her case, and my preliminary findings show she is innocent and the charges against her are baseless," Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti said.

He will submit a final report Wednesday to Zardari's office, he said.

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