Pakistan High Court throws out Rimsha Masih blasphemy case

The Pakistan High Court has thrown out the blasphemy case against Christian girl Rimsha Masih.

There had been concerns for Rimsha's future after the court in Islamabad last week reserved judgement on an application for the charge against her to be annulled.

Rimsha, who is believed to be 14 with a lower mental age, was accused by neighbours in August of burning pages of the Koran.

She was released on bail but forced to go into hiding with her family.

The case made international headlines and even drew criticism from Islamic clerics in Pakistan.

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At today's hearing, Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rahman ordered the police to dismiss the First Information Report filed against her.

Her accusers retain the right to appeal the decision.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide's (CSW's) Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said the ruling was "extremely welcome news".

"We applaud the IHC for making the decision and enabling reason and the rule of law to prevail in Rimsha's case," he said.

"It is unusual for a blasphemy charge to be thrown out in this manner and the result is testimony to the wisdom of her legal team, from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), in approaching the IHC."

Mr Thomas expressed concern for the security of Rimsha and her family, pointing out that the court ruling does not guarantee their personal safety.

One of Rimsha's key accusers was later accused of framing her, but Mr Thomas said it remained to be seen whether he would be held accountable.

He said: "If he is, it will be a sign of the kind of progress stressed by Pakistan during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN last month, and may well make others think twice before misusing the laws in a similar fashion."

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