Asia Bibi has given her first interview since 2020 to New Lines Magazine. She left for Canada in 2019 after being acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a false blasphemy case that led to a death sentence.

Ailia Zehra writes that despite claims from right-wing groups that Bibi received funding from anti-Pakistani groups to live a comfortable lifestyle in Canada, the truth is far from it.

Bibi was a farm labourer residing in the Nankana Sahib district in Punjab. In 2010, she was arrested under the blasphemy laws after an argument with her Muslim neighbours. In 2010, she was arrested and sentenced to death by a judge in Sheikhupura, while the verdict was upheld by the Lahore High Court.


Local politicians like Salmaan Taseer, who was then the Governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, who was the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs and also a Christian, had condemned this arrest. Both were outspoken critics of the blasphemy law and vowed to release Bibi from prison. However, Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard in 2011, while Bhatti was also assassinated the same year by the Pakistani Taliban.

In 2018 when Bibi was cleared of blasphemy charges by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Bibi was kept under protective custody for six months and then flown to Canada in secret where she reunited with her husband and two daughters.


However, in this interview Bibi reveals that despite getting international support from organizations for her release, since her arrival in Canada she had not received financial support for her ailing husband and two disabled daughters. She works 14 hours a day at a menial job which is not able to cover her expenses. Her health is deteriorating because of a joint ailment.

Bibi said that she was not able to bring her other three children with her. Her husband is unemployed and needs heavy medication without which he could get extremely sick. Bibi also got teary-eyed by opening up about not being able to visit her parents, as her mother passed away while she was in prison and her father is still in Pakistan.

“My biggest sorrow is that I could not get to meet my father before coming to Canada. I will carry this grief in my heart for the rest of my life,” she said.

Bibi also disclosed that there are no organizations to reach out to in order to get her children currently in Pakistan back to her, because the support she was offered at the time of her departure was limited.

Since the three years Bibi and her family have been staying in Canada, she confessed that it has been incredibly hard to adjust to a new lifestyle because of the cultural and language barriers, especially the limited support from Pakistani authorities:

“My husband and I are illiterate,” she confessed. “Our children could not get an education either. You could imagine how hard it would be for someone like us.”

The article explained that although there are many government programs that provide facilities for refugees like Asia and her family, going through the process is over whelming as Bibi was not used to carrying out such procedures. On whether the Pakistani Consulate in Canada had reached out to help with facilities, Bibi said she couldn’t expect them to support her as she is still regarded as a criminal in Pakistan with extremist groups still targeting Christian communities:

“Tehreek-e-Labbaik was asking the government to kill me,” Bibi said. “Under such circumstances, how can the government offer me support?”

Although there was an outpouring of international support, after her escape to Canada media attention faded away and left her with little support to fend for herself and her family:

“Many individuals who used my name to make money have also forgotten me…After my release, I felt like I had been moved from a small jail to a bigger one. During the six months I spent in protective custody, I feared I would be killed or sent back to jail.”