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Blasphemy accused Pak-Christian woman seeks President's mercy

By Nairita Das

Lahore, Nov 21 (ANI): A Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy has appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon her, saying that she had been wrongfully accused by neighbours due to a personal dispute.

"I told the police that I have not committed any blasphemy and this is a wrong accusation, but they did not listen to me," the Daily Times quoted Aasia Bibi, as saying to reporters, after meeting Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.

"I have small kids. I have wrongly been implicated in this false case," she said from the prison, covered in a cloak that revealed only her eyes.

"It was just the outcome of a rivalry. I would never even think of blasphemy," Aasia said weeping. "I have small children. For God's sake, please set me free," she appealed.

It was just a dispute over water but the people accused her of blasphemy and implicated her in a false and fabricated case, Aasia said, adding that she respected the Holy Prophet, and would never think of passing blasphemous remarks against Him.

The case has drawn huge attention in the media, and there is deep sympathy for her. Several NGOs have called for repealing the blasphemy law because it was "being used by illiterate masses in rural areas to hoodwink the minorities".

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI had also called for her release, and said that Christians in Pakistan were "often victims of violence and discrimination."

Meanwhile, Zardari has stayed Aasia's execution, and directed the federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, to submit a report in this regard. (ANI)

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