KARACHI: Several religious parties on Friday staged a sit-in against the Supreme Court judgement upholding the decision against Mumtaz Qadri, the Elite Force commando who assassinated former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer in Jan 2011, and demanded that the government review the conviction handed down to the self-confessed killer.

The protesters warned the relevant authorities that Qadri’s execution would cause anger among the people who love Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more than their lives.

The demonstration, which was organised outside the Karachi Press Club by Tanzeemat-i-Ahl-i-Sunnat (an alliance of several parties representing the Barelvi school of thought), was attended by a large number of people holding placards and portraits of the convict.

The alliance represents the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani), Pakistan Sunni Tehreek, Jamaat Ahl-i-Sunnat, Sunni Alliance, Sunni Ittehad Council and others.

“Mumtaz Qadri is not a terrorist who has blown up a public place in the name of Islam or killed innocent people without any reason for an undefined ideology,” said Shahid Ghori of the Sunni Tehreek.

“We are not opting for agitation or violence on streets, but we have arguments to prove our point. That’s the reason we are challenging this conviction against him.”

Mufti Mohammad Abid Mubarak said that any segment of society that believed the conviction was justified could have a debate with him on the subject. The parties under the Tanzeemat-i-Ahl-i-Sunnat had enough points to prove him innocent, he added.

“We are making a case for dialogue and for not confrontation. We respect Pakistan’s institutions whether they are law enforcement agencies or the judiciary,” said prominent cleric Pir Muzaffar Hussain Shah. “But one must understand that blasphemy is itself a crime set by these institutions and laws of Pakistan. So how one can be penalised for rising against that crime?”

Allama Rehan Amjad Nomani, Mufti Ghulam Ghaus Baghdadi and Maulana Qari Khalil-ur-Rahman Chishti also spoke.

JI support for Mumtaz Qadri

The Jamaat-i-Islami also threw its weight behind Mumtaz Qadri and described him as the hero of the Pakistani nation.

In a statement issued on Friday, senior leader of the party Asadullah Bhutto called for the removal of terror charges against the convicted killer. “Mumtaz Qadri is the hero of the Pakistani nation,” he said. “We respect the Supreme Court verdict, but keep every right to challenge it.”

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2015