I first reported on Asia Bibi’s case almost nine years ago. I am thinking about it again as she awaits the outcome of her final appeal – and wondering whether she might now be free if there had been no publicity.
In most cases, the more publicity, the more outrage, the more pressure the better. Cases get forgotten. Prisoners languish forever, out of sight.
But Pakistan has a problem with religious extremism. In a case like this – a Christian accused of blasphemy – emotions run high. Judges have been murdered for freeing defendants accused of blasphemy.
Maybe the more attention, the more difficult it becomes to quietly resolve this and let her go. The more she becomes a symbol of something, the bigger the forces at work. The more difficult for a sensible outcome.