The Supreme Court is expected to make public its decision to condemn or not Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman who was sentenced to death in 2010 over blasphemy charges, in the coming days, though no date has been specified. Bibi's final appeal was heard on October 8; while a judgement has been reached, the court is reserving its judgment for unspecified reasons. The verdict holds the potential to trigger large-scale protests, especially if the death penalty is not upheld.
Thousands of demonstrators responded to the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) Islamist political party's call to protest nationwide regarding the issue on Friday, October 12. Protests were well-attended in the capital Islamabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi (both Punjab), and Karachi (Sindh).
TLP has publicly warned the government and judiciary against overturning Bibi's death sentence and threatened to stage further protests should the death penalty not be upheld.
TLP was founded in 2015 and has increasingly been gaining popular support, as demonstrated by the results of the July 2018 general elections. Protests held by TLP in 2017 demanding the stricter enforcement of blasphemy laws led to a blockade on the capital Islamabad, which lasted for three weeks and resulted in the resignation of the federal law minister.
Individuals in Pakistan are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence, and refrain from discussing sensitive religious and political topics in public.
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