Full Report: By Abdul Ghani Shahzaib

 

FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2011, file photo, commando of Pakistan’s Elite force Mumtaz Qadri, right, who killed Punjab’s Gov. Salman Taseer, sits in police custody in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan hanged to death Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, the convicted killer of the former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy, officials said. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer.
Pakistani protesters burn tires and block a main highway to protest against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of a former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer. Most schools also closed down in the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi in fear of violence by supporters of the killer.
FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2011, file photo, commando of Pakistan’s Elite force Mumtaz Qadri, right, who killed Punjab’s Gov. Salman Taseer, sits in a police van in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan hanged to death Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, the convicted killer of the former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy, officials said. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer.
Pakistani police officers and security personnel stand guard as hundreds of protesters block a main highway in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Pakistan hanged to death Monday Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of a former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy, officials said. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer. Most schools also closed down in the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi in fear of violence by supporters of the killer.
FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2011, file photo, commando of Pakistan’s Elite force Mumtaz Qadri, right, who killed Punjab’s Gov. Salman Taseer, sits in police custody in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan hanged to death Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, the convicted killer of the former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy, officials said. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer.
Pakistani protesters burn tires and block a main highway to protest against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of a former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer. Most schools also closed down in the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi in fear of violence by supporters of the killer.
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Pakistani protesters burn tires and block a main highway to protest against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of a former governor shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy. The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer. Most schools also closed down in the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi in fear of violence by supporters of the killer. B.K. Bangash AP Photo
By ASIF SHAHZAD Associated Press

ISLAMABAD

Pakistan on Monday hanged the convicted killer of a former governor, shot in 2011 by his bodyguard who accused him of blasphemy, officials said.

The execution triggered protests in several cities denouncing the hanging after some religious and political leaders, as well as militant groups, publicly defended the killer. Most schools also closed down in the capital, Islamabad, and the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi in fear of violence by supporters of the executed former police officer Mumtaz Qadri.

Qadri was on guard duty for secular Gov. Salman Taseer who was campaigning in support of a Christian woman jailed for years on accusations of blasphemy for allegedly desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

Pakistan has executed a man who killed a powerful governor who had opposed the country’s blasphemy laws.

Mumtaz Qadri, a member of police’s elite force, was part of the team guarding Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer in January 2011 when Qadri shot Taseer nearly 30 times in broad daylight in Islamabad.

Qadri was hanged in Adiala prison in Rawalpindi city early Monday after meeting with his family the night before.

Protests broke out in several parts of the country, including Rawalpindi, as news of the execution spread. Security was extremely tight and extra contingents of police and the country’s paramilitary force were deployed to sensitive areas. All roads leading to the capital, Islamabad, were heavily guarded.
In October 2011, an anti-terrorism court gave him the death sentence, which was maintained by higher courts.

Two weeks after the murder of Punjab’s governor, Minority Affairs Minister Shehbaz Bhatti, another critic of the country’s blasphemy laws, was also gunned down.

The January 2011 assassination horrified Pakistan’s relatively small liberal elite. However, many Pakistanis, including some in the religious establishment and in legal circles, praised Qadri — a sign of the spread of Islamic fundamentalist thought in this South Asian nation.

Qadri was convicted and sentenced to death in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi later that year. He was hanged Monday in Rawalpindi, after all his petitions and mercy appeals were rejected, said police official Sadiq Mahmood.

Security was stepped up at flashpoints across the country including the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where hundreds of supporters began gathering at Qadri’s family home.

According to our correspondent, Qadri’s body was sent to his native town Sadiqabad near Rawalpindi where his funeral prayers will be offered tomorrow (Tuesday).

Rangers and police in riot gear as well as ambulances and dozens of police vehicles were stationed in Sadiqabad.

Following Qadri’s execution, protest demonstrations were reported in different cities, including Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

People gathered on main road, Faizabad Interchange, outside Rawalpindi, burning tyres on the thoroughfare and chanting slogans against government.

In the wake of any untoward situation, authorities closed schools in Rawalpindi.

In Karachi, some petrol stations were closed.
Cries were heard from inside the house as hundreds of men and women gathered, and mosques could be heard broadcasting news of the execution.

“I have no regrets,” Qadri’s brother Malik Abid told AFP, tears rolling down his cheeks, while women chanted poetry nearby.

He said the family had been called to the prison Sunday evening by officials who said Qadri was unwell.

But when they arrived, he greeted them with the news that authorities had deceived them, and that his execution was imminent.

“We started crying, but he hugged us and chanted ‘God is great,’” Abid said.

“We have beefed up security in Rawalpindi to maintain law and order and to deal with any untoward situation,” Gondal said.

In Karachi, some petrol stations were closed after Qadri supporters ordered them shut.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, an Islamic republic of some 200 million, and Qadri has been hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out any calls to soften the legislation.

Critics including European governments say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are largely misused, with hundreds of people languishing in jails under false charges.

Taseer had also been vocal in his support of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who has been on death row since 2010 after being found guilty of insulting the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).

Qadri’s lawyers drew on Islamic texts to argue that he was justified in killing Taseer, saying that by criticising the law the politician was himself guilty of blasphemy — an argument rejected by the lead judge.

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”.

The court’s decision to uphold the sentence sparked rallies in which Islamist groups said that if Qadri were executed those responsible should also be put to death.

A police spokesman said security forces were on high alert and extra police were being deployed to clear the roads. – Samaa/Agencies

Qadri shot Taseer 28 times at a market in Islamabad in broad daylight.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, an Islamic republic of some 200 million, and Qadri has been hailed as a hero by millions of Pakistanis and he has been hailed in abroad as well by millions of Muslim through out world.

Section 144 has been imposed in the provincial capital to counter attempted rallies causing trouble in the city. Ravi Bridge is shut for traffic while heavy contingent of police has been deployed at the site.

Protesters are staging demonstrations at Lahore’s Shahdara Chowk while in Karachi, Shahrah-e-Faisal is blocked. Ghareebabad area of Sindh’s capital also witnessed protests and road leading to Liaquatabad from Hassan Square was closed for all kinds of traffic.

Route of the Lahore’s metro has been restricted to M.A.O College due to the ongoing fracases in different areas.

Metro bus service is suspended in Rawalpindi as protesters have blocked the route and shut the key terminal. Flocks of people have also shut expressway and Faizabad bridge that connect the city with the federal capital. Protesters reportedly pelted dozens of vehicles with stones and broke window panes.

After his arrest, Qadri told police he killed Taseer because the governor had championed the cause of a Christian woman sentenced to death in a blasphemy case that arose out of a personal dispute.

Qadri’s attorney said his client told him he had no regrets for killing the governor.

“I have met him twice in jail. He said that even if Allah gave me 50 million lives, I would still sacrifice all of them,” lawyer Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry said.

Protesters briefly blocked the main road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday after news of the hanging broke. Police later dispersed them and closed off the road to prevent more demonstrations.

Chaudhry predicted larger demonstrations coinciding with Qadri’s funeral, which his legal group said would be held on Tuesday.

Earlier this year he appealed to President Mamnoon Hussain for lenience as religious leaders warned of violence if he was not released – in a further sign of how the case had exposed the country’s febrile religious atmosphere.

Such were the tensions and the power of Pakistan’s religious hardliners, that many believed Qadri’s sentence would never be carried out.

Security was tightened in Islamabad on Monday morning amid fears that the execution would spark angry demonstrations.

Some lawyers showered Qadri with rose petals when he first arrived in court days after the killing. The judge who first convicted him was forced to flee the country after death threats.

(Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)

“From what we are seeing, this protest movement is only going to increase,” he said.

Late in 2011, an anti-terrorism court handed down a double death sentence to Qadri for murder and terrorism. The sentence was appealed and upheld by the Supreme Court late last year.

Taseer, who died aged 66, had termed the blasphemy regulations as “black laws” drawing the ire of extremists. The laws were introduced by Pakistan’s military ruler Zia-ul-Haq in 1980s.

“This is the punishment for a blasphemer,” Qadri had reportedly said during his interrogation.

In May, just months after Taseer was gunned down, Pakistan’s Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the cabinet’s only Christian, was shot dead by gunmen who ambushed his car.

That August, Salman Taseer’s son, Shahbaz Taseer, was abducted in Lahore. His whereabouts are still unclear.

Mumtaz Qadri, a former police bodyguard who killed liberal Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011, was hanged early on Monday in a prison in Rawalpindi. Local police officials confirmed the execution took place.

Army Rangers and police in riot gear as well as ambulances and dozens of police vehicles were stationed outside Qadri’s home in the city early on Monday, blocking the street and refusing to allow people to enter.

In the morning, hundreds of people who hail Qadri as ‘Ghazi’ gathered at his family’s house in Rawalpindi for last sightings. Reportedly, family of the murderer was asked on Sunday to visit him in jail as he was ‘unwell’. However, the news about imminent execution was broke to them later on.

Qadri, a former police commando in Taseer’s security protocol, gunned down the former governor on 4th Jaunary 2011 in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market. Qadri was handed a death sentence by the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC).

The judge who oversaw Qadri’s trial was forced to flee the country after receiving death threats.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a Taliban school attack in December 2014 and has executed over 300 convicts since then.

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