Protests have erupted in the major cities of Pakistan after the Supreme Court acquitted Asia BiBi of blasphemy charges on Wednesday.
According to reports, the demonstrators belonging to the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and other religious groups took to streets in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and others cities to protest the apex court's ruling.
The protesters were gathering at Islamabad's Faizabad Interchange, outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore and on several locations in Karachi.
Police in the three cities were advising people to take alternative routes to avoid inconvenience.
Baldia Town, Numaish Chowrangi, Shahra-e-Faisal, Star Gate, Sohrab Goth, Al-Asif Square, Orangi Town Number 5, Surjani Town, 4-K Chowrangi and Tower were affected by the protests.
According to Traffic Police the road leading to Baldia Town from Sher Shah was closed for the traffic. The vehicles coming from Hyderabad are being diverted to Abull Asfahani Road due to closure of Sohrab Goth.
People using the Numaish Chowrangi road have been asked to take alternative routes.
Tarrafic was diverted to II Chandrigarh Road from Jinnah Bridge while Babaye Urdu Road was being used by theas an alternative after closure of MA Jinnah ROad.
The All Pakistan Private Schools Association has announced that schools would remain closed tomorrow (Thursday).
The decision to close schools comes as protests are taking place in several cities of Pakistan against the acquittal of Asia Bibi.
TLP Chief Maulana Khadim Rizvi was leading a demonstration at Lahore's Chairing Cross while Multan Road, Manga Mandi, Cungi Amar Sidhu, Darogha Wala Chowk was also witnessing protests.
Major protest is being held outside Punjab Assembly.
Meanwhile , the Punjab government has imposed Section 144 in view of the protests in the province.
Protesters were thronging the Faizabad Interchange while Islamabad Expressway was closed at Shakrial and Grand Trunk Road at Gojar Khan.
Demonstration were being held at Ring Road, Jameel Chowk and the Press Club.
Security beefed up
Provincial governments have beefed up security in view of the protests in several cities. Arrangements were being made to maintain law and order situation.
Islamabad Red Zone has also been sealed due to security concerns. The road from Rawal Dam roundabout to Red Zone has also been closed for traffic by placing containers to block the passage.
Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother facing execution for blasphemy.
"The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside," said Chief Justice Saqib Nisar in the ruling.
Bibi appeared to be in state of disbelief after hearing the decision from her lawyer.
"I can´t believe what I am hearing, will i go out now? Will they let me out, really?" Bibi told AFP by phone from prison after the ruling.
"I just don´t know what to say, I am very happy, I can´t believe it."
Bibi was set to be released immediately according to the court, although there was no word if any security arrangements were being made for her protection.
Her legal team celebrated the court´s decision amid beefed-up security in Islamabad after religious hardliners had vowed to protest any acquittal of the case.
Her case drew the attention of international rights groups and swiftly became the most high-profile in the country.
Pope Benedict XVI called for her release in 2010, while in 2015 her daughter met his successor and the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
The allegations against Bibi date back to 2009, when she was working in a field and was asked to fetch water. Muslim women she was labouring with allegedly objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.
The women went to a local cleric and accused Bibi of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, a charge punishable by death under colonial-era legislation.
During the appeal hearing on October 8, a three-member panel of Supreme Court justices appeared to question the case against her, with Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, considered Pakistan´s top expert in criminal law, listing flaws in the proceedings.
"I don´t see any derogatory remarks vis-a-vis the holy Quran as per the FIR," added Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, referring to the initial complaint filed in the case.
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