MINISTERS are facing calls to intervene in the case of a Pakistani Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy.

Human rights campaigners said ministers could use their links with the country to demand a reprieve for Asia Bibi who was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 after an argument with Muslim co-workers.

The call comes as a UK-wide petition calling for the release of the woman tops half a million signatures.

Aid to the Church in Need, a global charity which aims to halt the persecution of Christians across the globe, has also called on the Consulate of Pakistan in Glasgow to encourage its government to carry out a review of the case.

Lorraine McMahon, head of operations in Scotland for the charity, said: "What is the Scottish Government doing to hold the Pakistan Government to account?

"It must utilise the strong business and cultural links between Scotland and Pakistan and the relationship External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf has built up with Pakistani Government."

She added that the UK Government had doubled aid to Pakistan to over £400 million per annum and had "expressly stated that this money is aimed at tackling extremism".

She said: "However, over that same period our research shows that acts of intolerance and violence have increased and that few if any steps have been taken to alter current legal frameworks that clearly intimate religious minorities and only make the situation worse."

The petition was organised by university student Emily Clarke, who was moved by the plight of Ms Bibi, the first woman to be sentenced to death in Pakistan, with the number of signatures rising to more than 570,000.

The High Court in Lahore upheld her death sentence last October while her family is making a last chance appeal to Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Minister for Europe and International Development

Mr Yousaf said: "The Scottish Government strongly opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, and believes it to be the most fundamental violation of human rights. Scottish Ministers have consistently raised this issue through the UK Government and with the authorities in Pakistan.

"Scotland has a strong and enduring commitment to securing democracy, the rule of law and fundamental human rights across the world.

"Respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles is critical to the stability of all nations and territories, and the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring we make a contribution to that effort as a good global citizen.

"We are deeply concerned by all incidents of religious persecution and have called on the Foreign Secretary to outline how the UK Government plans to engage further with international governments and faith leaders to tackle the persecution of religious minorities around the world."