Religious parties representing the Barelvi school of thought on Tuesday announced that they would challenge the Islamabad High Court decision to uphold the death sentence awarded to Mumtaz Qadri, who was convicted of killing former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.
They also offered to pay blood money to the deceased governor’s family for the acquittal of the self-confessed killer.
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and the Pakistan Sunni Alliance claimed that the government in the name of an operation against terrorism was treating all tolerant and non-violent religious circles in a same way. “The government is responsible for creating challenges which ultimately increase its own difficulties,” said Shabbir Abu Talib of the JUP. “Parties representing the Ahle Sunnat school of thought do not want to trigger any chaos or violence. We are ready for a healthy debate on the Mumtaz Qadri issue.” He said parties of their school of thought had decided to challenge the judgement against Qadri in the Supreme Court and for that meetings with legal experts and senior lawyers were being held.
“We have a key case of Raymond Davis fresh in our memory. The political leadership of the country compromised national security, exploiting the provision in Islam to set that killer [Raymond Davis] free. We are ready to pay much more Khoonbaha (blood money) to the family of Salman Taseer [for Qadri’s release],” said Mr Talib.
The Islamabad High Court on Monday acquitted Qadri of charges of terrorism, but upheld his conviction under the Pakistan Penal Code. Mumtaz Qadri, Mr Taseer’s gunman and former Punjab police elite force commando, assassinated Salman Taseer in Kohsar market in Islamabad on Jan 4, 2011. Angry over conviction of Qadri under the penal code, the religious parties hinted at taking it to the streets for his release. “We will now hold protest demonstrations on Friday,” said Mr Talib. “Our struggle is under democratic norms and will remain peaceful. We are not going to challenge the writ of the state in the name of protest. In Karachi the main Friday protest will be organised at the Numaish traffic intersection.” He said parties representing the Ahle Sunnat school of thought had called a joint meeting on Saturday to prepare a common strategy for their cause.