The government has rebutted a front page story in Thursday’s edition of The Express Tribune, “Aasia Bibi flies out of Pakistan”.
To put the record straight, The Express Tribune wants to clarify to its readers that the story in question was based on a BBC Urdu report which claimed on the authority of “interior ministry sources” that Aasia Bibi has flown to the Netherlands after her release from a Multan prison.
The BBC Urdu report further said that “Aasia Bibi was brought from Multan jail to Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi, from where she, along with her family, departed for the Netherlands”. “Besides Aasia Bibi and her family members, the Dutch ambassador also boarded the plane,” it claimed.
Though the information in The Express Tribune story was clearly attributed to BBC Urdu, the headline didn’t have the attributive tag, which created an impression that it was our own story.
The Express Tribune regrets the publication of the BBC story without confirmation from the officials concerned and without cross-checking the facts.
Pakistani officials denied the story as untrue. The Foreign Office said that “Aasia Bibi is still present in Pakistan”. Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal urged the media to be responsible. “She will not be flown out of the country until the apex court rules on a review petition against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal.
The federal information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, also denied the reports saying that it was a sensitive issue and the media should act responsibly.
“It has become a norm to publish fake news for sake of headlines, #AsiaBibi case is sensitive issue it was extremely irresponsible to publish news of her leaving the country without confirmation, I strongly urge section of media to act responsible,” he wrote on microblogging site Twitter.
We’re publishing the screenshot of the BBC Urdu story, along with translation, to clarify our stance.