Qadri’s execution will do nothing to stop abuse of the blasphemy law
Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was hanged at Adiala Jail at around 4.30am on Monday, February 29th after his appeal for mercy was rejected by the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain.
Qadri, an Elite Force commando, shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011.
In the same year the anti-terrorism court sentenced Qadri to death on two counts – for murder and terrorism. Last year Qadri lost a petition for the Supreme Court to review his sentence in December last year.
The decision came after the court warned in October that in Islam a false accusation can be as serious as the blasphemy itself, and that calls for blasphemy law reform “ought not to be mistaken as a call for doing away with that law”.
But Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK, said that Qadri’s punishment will solve nothing and cannot guarantee that there will be no further killings of innocent people after accusations of blasphemy.
He added: “The blasphemy law needs to be changed. It is very unfortunate that despite several Pakistani politicians admitting that it is being misused, the government still hasn’t shown any willingness to bring this matter to Parliament.
“In the past those who raised this matter in the parliament were threatened for their lives. If the government is sincere in stopping the misuse of the law, and the killing of innocent people, it must bring this law to parliament for change, or should at least introduce safeguards.”
He further said there could be severe repercussions for minorities, and in particular Christians, in light of Qadri’s death.
Mr Saeed continued: “The execution will also enhance the threat to the lives of those who are charged under blasphemy law and are currently detained in various prisons.
“The Government must enhance security, particularly for Aasiya Bibi and her family.”
He also said the hanging could have an impact on Aasiya Bibi’s case and Islamists could demand severe action be taken against her.
“Christians are scared and cautious after Qadri’s execution,” Mr Saeed said.
Qadri’s death has triggered nation-wide protests by Islamists who called it a “black day”. Within hours of the hanging, street protests broke out in several cities by those who considered him a hero for defending the faith.
Rangers and riot police were deployed outside Qadri’s home in Rawalpindi where hundreds of supporters had gathered and also in nearby Islamabad.
After assassinating Taseer in January 2011, Qadri admitted the killing and said he objected to the governor’s calls to reform the blasphemy laws.
Taseer, had vocally and publicly shown support for Aasiya Bibi.