On Tuesday, January 29, Pakistan’s Supreme Court in Islamabad will rule on whether or not an appeal can be filed against the acquittal of Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Local officials have requested an increased security presence in Islamabad during the hearing to prevent violent protests from breaking out. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) hardliner party has threatened to hold demonstrations if the appeal is rejected. Heightened security measures are expected in Islamabad, particularly around the High Court building. Associated protests are also possible in other major urban areas. If protests do take place, an increased security presence, transportation disruptions, clashes with security forces, and vandalism are likely.
Mass demonstrations broke out in October 2018, after the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi, resulting in clashes with security forces, roadblocks, and rail and flight disruptions across the country. TLP leaders, who were instrumental in provoking the unrest, agreed to end mass protests on November 3, after an agreement was reached with the government.
Individuals in Pakistan, particularly in Islamabad, advised to closely 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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