West Europe

EU envoy says Pakistan trade access depends on Aasia Bibi’s release

The European Union’s Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion has reportedly told the Pakistani government that trade access to the EU will be directly linked to a “positive outcome” in Aasia Bibi’s “blasphemy” case.

Pakistan currently has duty-free access to EU markets, having been awarded special states under the Generalised System of Preferences in 2013, but it is understood that the Italian government is behind the calls to make Pakistani trade access dependent on the release of the most high-profile victim of Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws.

Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 and has spent nearly nine years in prison after she was accused of insulting Muhammad during an argument with fellow women field-labourers. The confrontation started when they refused to drink water she had fetched because she was a Christian. The most recent attempt to appeal her conviction collapsed when one of the three judges recused himself.