The Supreme Court will on Tuesday (today) hear a review petition filed against the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman charged with blasphemy, amid stringent security arrangements including the deployment of paramilitary troops in Islamabad’s sensitive areas. The bench which will take up the review petition is headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and includes Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel. Asia Bibi’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, who fled to Europe due to fears for his safety last year, said he expected the case to be dismissed in the first hearing. “They have filed the petition on flimsy grounds. They haven’t attempted to counter her release on constitutional grounds,” he said. “God willing, she will have the decision in her favour. She will be a free person to go anywhere she wants to,” he added. In a letter written to the chief commissioner, the Islamabad district magistrate has sought the deployment of Pakistan Rangers in the capital city to avoid any untoward incident during the hearing of the case. However, human rights activist Jibran Nasir said that there was a feeling of unease visible on the social media platforms in the absence of any reassuring statement by the State that all necessary security arrangements have been made in the wake of the crucial hearing at the apex court. He pointed out that the executive has a responsibility to ensure an environment that does not seem to create any pressure or threats of violence in case Asia Bibi’s acquittal is upheld. Riots had erupted across many parts of Pakistan in October last year after the Supreme Court ordered the release of Asia Bibi, acquitting her of blasphemy charges. The estimated loss emanating from the riots amounted to nearly Rs 262 million. Jibran said the ruling party has two different narratives to sell: so-called progressive narrative at the Centre and an extremist narrative in Punjab. He questioned why the taxpayers’ money should be used to pay for the actions of the ‘extremists’. “The taxpayers’ money is used to pay for actions of violent hooligans without ever holding the instigators, a registered political party which ran an election campaign with millions in funds, accountable,” he lamented. Published in Daily Times, January 29th 2019.