Waliaha Arfat was jailed in 2012 for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Quran.
The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to a woman who is on trial for blasphemy after she spent three years in jail, her lawyer told AFP, a rare decision in a country where such charges are hugely sensitive.
Waliaha Arfat was accused of desecrating a copy of the Quran and jailed in 2012 in Lahore, where her trial in a lower court is still ongoing. “Her continuous confinement poses a serious threat to her life,” said her lawyer, renowned human rights activist Asma Jahangir. However, her fiancé Muhammad Amanullah said her safety was also a major concern once she leaves jail.
Blasphemy is a volatile issue in Pakistan, an Islamic republic of some 200 million, where even unproven allegations frequently stir mob violence and lynchings.
“Some extremists had earlier tried to attack her when she was being taken to the court. Later, the court had to move her trial inside the jail,” said Amanullah.
Arfat’s trial lawyer Saiful Malook said she will be released soon.
She is suffering from mood disorders and needs psychotherapy, Jahangir said, adding that Pakistan’s penal code says no woman can be kept behind bars in the country for more than six months without a conviction.
In her petition, Jahangir pleaded her client’s innocence and said that as a Muslim she could not even conceive of committing such a crime.
A trial judge first refused Arfat bail in 2012 because of the “serious nature” of the charge. She appealed twice, with both pleas rejected, and the provincial high court also dismissed a petition on Aug. 28 this year.