Money and trade status may have been factors in the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in Pakistan.
Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009 and later sentenced to death. However, that was based on what International Christian Concern calls "flimsy evidence" following a dispute between Bibi and a group of Muslim coworkers with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. Bibi's coworkers became angry when she, a Christian woman, drank from the same water bowl as the Muslims. An argument ensued and Bibi's coworkers told a local cleric that she blasphemed against Muhammad.
On Tuesday, Pakistan's highest court upheld its acquittal of Bibi, clearing the last legal hurdle freeing her to leave the country.
"It's really great to see that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has actually resisted pressure from the extremists within the country and has decided to uphold justice for Aasia," says William Stark of International Christian Concern about Bibi's acquittal.
Stark believes that international warnings involving Pakistan's aid and trade status were factors in Bibi's acquittal.
"Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said that if they did not release Bibi, they would consider or take away from direct aid that Pakistan was receiving," he explains. "The European Union said that if Pakistan did not release Aasia, then Pakistan would lose preferential trade status with the European bloc."
Even the UK said that if Pakistan did not release Bibi they would lose their status as a commonwealth country. "So that also comes with some preferential trade status as well," Stark adds.
A letter from 230 parliamentarians from around the globe may prove Stark's point. Organized and delivered by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International in November 2018, signees point out the following to Pakistan's government:
"We note that the economic and social prosperity of a country is closely related to the integrity of the rule of law. Investors and businesses need confidence in justice for the sake of contracts, employees, and reputation. Likewise, other nations will be less likely to invest in Pakistan if the rule of law is undermined."
Economics or politics aside, Andreas Thonauser of ADF International says people should never lose hope or interest in these situations. "There is hope," he says. "There is the possibility of acquittal, even if it seems impossible at first, but it's very true that we should not give up hope."
Bibi is believed to be moving to Canada where she will join her daughters already in the country.