The Supreme Court in Islamabad rejected an appeal to overturn the decision to acquit Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges on Tuesday, January 29. Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that the court did not find any mistakes in the previous verdict to overturn Bibi’s death sentence. Hardline political parties, including Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), had previously threatened to hold demonstrations if the appeal was rejected; as of Tuesday evening (local time), no protests have been announced. However, associated demonstrations are possible in the coming hours and days in major urban areas, including Islamabad. 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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