The country's new chief justice says the request to review her acquittal was rejected on merit. The Christian woman sentenced to death in 2010 in what swiftly became Pakistan's most infamous blasphemy case.
The fate of a Christian woman enmeshed in a years-long blasphemy row was finally decided on Tuesday, when Pakistan's Supreme Court decided to dismiss an appeal against its decision to acquit Asia Bibi.
Judges — including Pakistan's new chief justice — tossed out the petition against their decision last October to free Bibi from death row, where she languished for eight years.
"On merit, this petition is dismissed," Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said in court.
The decision lifts the last legal hurdle between her and a possible deal for asylum abroad.
TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis has more.
Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 in what swiftly became Pakistan's most infamous blasphemy case.
The Supreme Court overturned her conviction last year, but she remains in protective custody as a prime target in Pakistan, where blasphemy is a hugely sensitive charge.
With the government refusing to reveal her whereabouts, speculation has been rampant that she may seek asylum with a European or North American country.
Bibi's acquittal ignited days of violent demonstrations, with enraged religious groups calling for her beheading.
The government since launched a crackdown on the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, the far-right religious group driving the protests. Its chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, has been under detention for weeks.
However, authorities also struck a deal to end the violence which included allowing the petition seeking an appeal against the Supreme Court's judgement.
Petition reviews are usually settled on the same day they are heard by the court. The court's ruling was a per expectations with experts earlier saying that it is highly unusual for the top court to allow an appeal against its own ruling.
The three-member bench that heard the petition was headed by newly-appointed Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa — considered the country's top expert in criminal law — who helped draft the decision to acquit Bibi.
Blasphemy remains a massively controversial issue in Pakistan, where even unproven accusations of insulting Islam can spark lynchings.
The governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his bodyguard in 2011 after speaking in Bibi’s defence. Federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was killed later that year after calling for her release.
Many cases see Muslims accusing Muslims, and rights activists say blasphemy charges are often used to settle personal scores or have other ulterior motives behind them.
Minorities are often caught in the crossfire.
The allegations against Bibi date back to 2009, when Muslim women accused her of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, a charge punishable by death under Pakistan law.
The accusation emerged from an argument after Bibi was asked to fetch water while working in the fields, but the women objected to her touching the water bowl as a non-Muslim.
Bibi has consistently denied the charges, and her prosecution rallied international rights groups, politicians and religious figures.
Pope Benedict XVI called for her release in 2010, while in 2015 her daughter met his successor Pope Francis.
Unconfirmed Pakistani media reports claim Bibi's two daughters have already gone to Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in November that his government was in talks with Pakistan over an asylum deal, but neither side has confirmed any details since.