Asia Bibi pins hopes for life on Supreme Court

The Christian woman facing death for blasphemy in Pakistan has appealed to the country's Supreme Court against her sentence.

Asia Bibi has appealed to the Pakistan Supreme Court.AP

Asia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 after being found guilty of insulting the prophet Mohammed. A high court in Lahore confirmed the death sentence last month and the appeal to the Supreme Court represents her last hope.

Her lawyer Saiful Malook said in his that petition his client had asked the court to reconsider deficiencies in the case, including evidence that was allegedly manipulated and a delay in the police investigation of the incident.

He added that the blasphemy claim was concocted by Bibi's enemies to target her and had no basis in fact. "We expect an early hearing of the appeal and hope that the proceedings will be over in one year," Malook said.

The case first arose when Bibi was working in a field and became involved in an argument with some Muslim women over whether a Christian woman should fetch water for Muslims. They later went to a local imam and accused her of blasphemy. Such accusations are extremely serious in Pakistan and are often used as ammunition in private or inter-communal disputes.

Her husband has written to Pakistan's president, Mamnoon Hussain, requesting a pardon and permission to seek asylum in France; the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has indicated that the couple would be welcome in her city.

Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih wrote in an open letter dated November 17: "We are Christians but we respect Islam. Our neighbours are Muslims and we have always lived well with them in our little village. But for some years now the situation in Pakistan has changed because of just a few people, and we are afraid. Today many of our Muslim friends cannot understand why the Pakistani justice system is making our family suffer so much."

He continued: "We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water."