A Chinese national accused of blasphemy in Pakistan has been released from a high-security prison after a court granted him bail. The court order came on the same day that China’s Premier Li Qiang held talks with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The suspect, identified as Tian, was released on Thursday after furnishing a bond of Rs 200,000 as surety. He was taken to an undisclosed location for security reasons. The judge cited ‘reasonable ground’ in the section on blasphemy and ruled that the charge was the ‘result of a misunderstanding’ and a ‘false case’ registered against the Chinese national. The accused was arrested in the Upper Kohistan district on April 16 after a mob accused him of blasphemy. Two lawyers represented the petitioner in the court, contending that the charge was false.
Premier Li expressed support for Pakistan in maintaining financial stability, and hoped that the country would continue to create a favourable environment to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel. In response, Sharif said that Pakistan would make every effort to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in the country. The Ulema Jirga, constituted by clerics after the alleged incident, accepted the court’s decision, though they said that the interpreter who allegedly instigated the protests should be put on trial. Under Pakistan’s penal code, blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment. The regulations were introduced by former military ruler Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s to win the support of religious groups.