Pakistan government says Asia Bibi still in the country following release

ReutersBibi's daughters pose with an image of their mother while standing outside their residence in Sheikhupura located in Pakistan's Punjab Province.

The government of Pakistan has dismissed reports that Asia Bibi has left the country following her release from prison.

Bibi, a Christian mother-of-five, was freed from prison after the Supreme Court overturned her death sentence for blasphemy last week.

There were numerous reports on Wednesday that she had left the country for an unknown destination.

However, the Pakistan Foreign Office has reportedly now come out to say that these reports are not true and that she remains in the country.

'She [Asia Bibi] is in Pakistan,' Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal told reporters at his weekly press briefing.

'She is in a safe location in Pakistan ... There is no truth in reports that Asia Bibi has left the country.'

Dr Faisal said she was free to go where she pleased but added, 'A review petition has been filed in the court and the Ministry of Interior can inform regarding whether she can be legally barred from leaving the country.'

The move to bar her from leaving the country was part of a deal reached by the government with Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik to stop nationwide protests calling for the death of Bibi and the judges who acquitted her.

Despite the acquittal, she continued to be held in prison as protests against her release brought the country to a standstill.

According to Geo TV, she has now been freed from a women's prison in Multan and flown to Islamabad under heavy security where she was able to be reunited with her family at a secure location.

Her husband Ashiq Masih has appealed to the UK, US, Canada and Italy for asylum. So far, only Italy has indicated it will grant the family's request.

Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said: 'I want women and children whose lives are at risk to be able to have a secure future, in our country or in other Western countries, so I will do everything humanly possible to guarantee that [for Bibi].

'It is not permissible that in 2018 someone can risk losing their life for a ... hypothesis of blasphemy.'

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has also promised assistance.

In a letter to Masih this week, Tajani said he had asked the Pakistani authorities to give Bibi and her family the necessary travel documents to leave Pakistan.

'The European Parliament is extremely concerned for your safety as well as your family's,' he said in the letter to Masih.

'We have asked the Pakistani authorities to guarantee your safety and of those protecting you.

'The Pakistani authorities must uphold the rule of law and their international human rights commitments.'