Full Report Ghazi Mumtaz Qadri. Govt of Pakistan fears it may loose the Govt.

MULTAN/SIALKOT/KASUR/KHANEWAL/

HAFIZABAD/GUJRANWALA/TOBA TEK SINGH

People in Punjab staged protests, took out rallies and observed shutdown in protest against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri here on Monday. These protests, however, remained peaceful.
In Multan, Tehreek Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat (TTNR) strongly condemned on Monday the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, and declared to hold his funeral in absentia (ghaibana namaz-e-janaza) at Chowk Hussain Agahi on Tuesday (today).
The activists of TTNR and other religious parties chanted anti-government slogans and marched through different roads.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters took to the roads to protest the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri in different areas of Multan. Main trading centres like Hussain Agahi, Chowk Bazaar, Kalay Mandi, Haram Gate, Bohar Gate and Shaheen Market remained shut due to the protests.
In Sialkot, thousands of people including local Ulema and students of religious seminaries participated in the protest rallies taken out in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial, Pasrur, Badiana, Chawinda and surrounding areas against the execution of Mumtaz Qadari.
The protesters workers of Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, Sunni Tehreek, Jamaat-e-Islami, Shabab-e-Milli and Jamiat Ahle Hadith marched through main roads and chanted anti-government slogans. They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the government decision to execute Qadri.
The protesters blocked traffic by burning tyres on main Sialkot-Daska-Gujranwala Road. In Sialkot, hundreds of protesting people also kept the traffic blocked on various inter-city roads including Paris Road, Allama Iqbal Chowk, Hajipura-Daska Road, Naikapura Road, Sialkot-Daska Road, Sialkot-Pasrur Road, China Chowk, Gulistan Chowk, Kashmir Road and Sialkot-Sambrial Wazirabad Road by burning tyres against the execution of Mumtaz Qadari.
In Sambrial, the protesters lodged strong protest by blocking traffic on main GT Road in Sambrial city.
In Kasur, a complete shutdown was observed across the district to protest the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri here on Monday.
All bazaars and markets remained closed and citizens along with religious leaders took out rallies and raised slogans against the government. The protests in different areas disrupted traffic.
In Khanewal, protests were held all the tehsils and sub-tehsils against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri. The main protest rally was taken out from Markazi Jamia Masjid Chowk Khanewal city.
The protesters marched through roads and forced the traders to close their business. Workers of Sunni Tehreek, Jamaat Ahle Sunnat Pakistan, Anjuman Tulba-e-Islam, Anjuman Raza-e-Mustfa and Anjuman Nojawannan-e-Islam chanted slogan against the government. The rally concluded in Kalma Chowk where religious scholar including Maulana Fateh Muhammad Hamdi, Mufti Shaukat Ali Sialvi, Mufti Abdul Hameed Chishti, Mufti Abdul Razzaq Golarvi, Sahibzada Azizur Rehman Hamdi, Zulfiqar Rzvi and Shahid Raza Qadri addressed the protesters.
In Hafizabad, the activists of different religious parties took out a rally against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri here on Monday.
Led by JUP (Noorani) Punjab President Barrister Syed Wasimul Hassan Naqvi, Syed Usman Shah of Sunni Tehrik, Rana Muhammad Asghar Chishti of Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, Allama Faisal Nadeem Kelani, Allama Habib Ullah Jalali and Syed Zulqarnain Shah, the activists paraded main thoroughfares of the city, chanting slogans against the government. They blocked traffic near Jamia Al-Farooq for some time.
Traders of different markets also observed partial shutdown. The DBA Hafizabad also observed strike to protest the hanging of Qadri.
The district administration made foolproof security arrangements to prevent any incident.
In Gujranwala, Jamaat Ahle Sunnat and Sunni Tehreek staged a protest against the execution of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri here at Pindi Bypass on Monday. The angry protesters chanted slogans against the government, broke the windscreen of a bus and cabin of traffic police.
They also blocked GT Road for hours, causing severe traffic jam. The protest continued till filing this report. A large number of police personnel were deployed at the scene to avert any unpleasant incident.
In Toba Tek Singh, the activists of different religious organisations took out rallies against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri. The participants raised slogans “Go Nawaz Go” and after marching different roads gathered at Shahbaz Chowk. There Maulana Munem Husnain Siddiqi, Maulana Burq Toheedi, Mufti Muhammad Aslam and Maulana Abdul Manan addressed the participants. Meanwhile, the District Bar Association observed strike to condemn the hanging to Mumtaz Qadri.

The funeral is taking place in Pakistan of the former bodyguard executed for killing Punjab’s governor over his opposition to blasphemy laws.

Security was tight as about 50,000 mourners gathered to pay their last respects to Mumtaz Qadri in Rawalpindi.

Qadri was hailed as a hero by Islamists for the 2011 killing of Salman Taseer, who wanted to reform the strict laws.

Thousands of police are deployed along the route of the funeral procession and in the nearby capital, Islamabad.

Qadri supporters threw rose petals on his coffin, Reuters reports from Liaquat Bagh park where the funeral was being held.

His execution on Monday prompted protesters to take to the streets in cities in Pakistan.

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption Mumtaz Qadri was hailed as a hero by some Islamist groups

Image copyright EPA

Image caption Protests took place on Monday in Peshawar and other Pakistani cities

Image copyright EPA

Image caption This road into Islamabad was blocked by Qadri supporters on Monday
Tens of thousands of supporters of a Pakistani Islamist executed for gunning down a liberal governor gathered for his funeral on Tuesday, sparking fears of violence, as schools closed and police cordoned off flashpoints.

Main junctions and sensitive buildings in the capital Islamabad and the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi were guarded by thousands of police, who also lined the route taken by Mumtaz Qadri’s funeral procession.

An AFP reporter at the Liaquat Bagh ground, where the prayers were being held, estimated around 50,000 men had turned out by the afternoon.

Relatives and supporters gather around the body of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri following his execution, in Rawalpindi, on February 29, 2016

Relatives and supporters gather around the body of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri following his execution, in Rawalpindi, on February 29, 2016 ©Farooq Naeem (AFP)

A few hundred were seen carrying sticks as they shouted slogans including “Qadri, your blood will bring the revolution” and “The punishment for a blasphemer is beheading”.

A United Nations official said all its staff had been sent home from various locations in the capital due to security fears, including from the tightly guarded diplomatic enclave.

Qadri, a police bodyguard to Salman Taseer, shot the liberal Punjab governor 28 times at an Islamabad market in 2011.

He said he was angry at the politician’s calls to reform the blasphemy law.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the Islamic republic, and Qadri was hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out calls to soften the legislation.

Critics say the law — which carries the death penalty — is largely misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges.

Those who carry out extra-judicial killings of alleged blasphemers largely escape punishment.

– Key moment –

Analyst Amir Rana said the execution marked a key moment for Pakistan in its more than a decade-long fight against religious extremism.

“I think it is a very critical moment in the political history of Pakistan. It is the first time the political government has made such a decision.

“The resolve is on the rule of law and they will not allow the space for extremism in Pakistan.”

But he warned there was potential for the move to backfire by making Qadri a martyr among his supporters and his execution a rallying cry.

Several supporters took turns to denounce and threaten the government prior to the funeral.

“The chief justice, the army chief and the president should fear the day when every single individual of the country will become Mumtaz Qadri and grab them on the streets of the country,” said Khadim Hussain.

Muhammad Ghias said he had travelled from the northwestern town of Mansehra because he believed attending the funeral would send him to heaven.

Mourners travelled from distant cities, including Karachi and Lahore.

Pakistan’s media meanwhile maintained a near-blackout for the second day running, a move that analysts said so far has helped limit the fallout from the execution.

Thousands protested in cities across Pakistan Monday after authorities announced the hanging had taken place early that morning.

But with security stepped up at flashpoints across the country of some 200 million, most dispersed peacefully.

“We have manned all the main junctions close to the procession route and sensitive buildings,” a police official in Islamabad told AFP earlier Tuesday, adding that up to 3,000 officers were on the streets.

Many schools and universities remained closed for the day after shutting early Monday.

A police official in Rawalpindi said similar numbers were deployed there, including hundreds brought in from other districts as well as paramilitary Rangers.

Liaquat Bagh, the park in Rawalpindi where the funeral ceremony will be held, is tinged with political significance: it is where Pakistani prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951, and the site of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2007.

Supporters of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri argue with soldiers during a protest against Qadri's execution, in Peshawar, on February 29, 2016

Supporters of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri argue with soldiers during a protest against Qadri’s execution, in Peshawar, on February 29, 2016 ©A Majeed (AFP)

Demonstrators march during a protest against the execution of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri, in Karachi, on February 29, 2016

Demonstrators march during a protest against the execution of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri, in Karachi, on February 29, 2016 ©Asif Hassan (AFP)

Mumtaz Qadri was working as a bodyguard for the Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, when he shot and killed him in January 2011. Qadri was unrepentant and said he acted because Taseer advocated reform of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

In the months before his murder, the governor had sparked anger among religious conservatives by taking up the cause of Asia Bibi, a poor Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad.

Qadri was hanged amid a news blackout at 4.30am on Monday in a prison in Rawalpindi. In a sign of the extreme sensitivity surrounding the execution, The decision of Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, to reject Qadri’s appeal for mercy went unannounced.

Officials said his family were summoned to the prison on Sunday night under the pretext that Qadri was feeling unwell. Fearing mass unrest, the main road into Islamabad was blocked by the police and many schools in the capital closed for the day.

Lawyers in the capital immediately announced a one-day protest strike, while Sunni Tehreek, a political wing of Pakistan’s majority Barelvi school of Islam, said it would mount nationwide protests. Qadri enjoyed widespread support among Barelvi Muslims.

Within hours of the news of Qadri’s execution, there were protests in Lahore, Rawalpindi and near the international airport in Karachi but broadcasters were ordered not to dwell on the story.

Television stations swiftly moved on to other news, including the Oscar won by Pakistani documentary maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on Sunday.

There was no coverage of crowds of angry Qadri supporters who flocked to pay their respects at his family’s house in Rawalpindi where his body was laid out on a bed, his head surrounded by roses.

His funeral prayers were due to be held on Tuesday at a park in Rawalpindi despite much speculation the government would try to prevent a mass gathering of Qadri’s supporters.

Raghib Naeemi, a Sunni cleric, complained bitterly about the secrecy surrounding Qadri’s execution.

“Justice has not been done because the execution process was not followed property and his death warrants were not announced by a local court,” he said. “The religious parties will not accept this challenge by the government.”

Taseer’s killing was one of the most traumatic events in recent Pakistani history, with the country’s liberal elite shocked into silence by the upsurge in support for Qadri.

Qadri was famously showered with rose petals and kissed by lawyers during his first appearance in court following the murder of Taseer, who was shot as he was leaving a restaurant in the capital, Islamabad. The judge who convicted Qadri of murder had to flee the country for his own safety.

Taseer, a business tycoon given the largely symbolic post of governor of Punjab, unwittingly unleashed a tide of anger after criticising the country’s internationally condemned blasphemy laws and for campaigning for the release of Bibi.

Qadri’s supporters compare the burly ex-policeman to Ilm-Deen, a carpenter’s apprentice who gained the status of saint and Muslim nationalist hero after being executed for killing the publisher of an allegedly blasphemous book in Lahore in 1929.

A mosque in Islamabad was named in honour of Qadri and the country’s army chief at the time reportedly told western ambassadors he could not publicly condemn him because too many of his soldiers sympathised with the killer.

While in prison, Qadri was treated like a religious sage by fellow inmates. He recorded popular devotional songs and incited prison guards into trying to kill blasphemy convicts, including one elderly British man.

Thousands of police were deployed at main junctions and sensitive buildings in the capital Islamabad and the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi, officials said, including along the route set to be taken by Mumtaz Qadri’s funeral procession.

Roads around Qadri’s home in Rawalpindi remained open, however. An AFP reporter there said up to 800 men and women had gathered as the body was placed in an ambulance to be taken to the funeral, with no security forces in sight.

Some of the men were seen carrying sticks.

Qadri, a police bodyguard to Salmaan Taseer, shot the liberal Punjab governor 28 times at an Islamabad market in 2011.

He said he was angry at the politician’s calls to reform the blasphemy law.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the Islamic republic, and Qadri was hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out calls to soften the legislation.

Critics say the law — which carries the death penalty — is largely misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges.

Analyst Hasan Askari has said that Islamabad, in deciding to proceed with the execution, had weighed the danger of mass violence against the need to “wash away the suspicion” of sympathy for militancy.

Thousands protested in cities across Pakistan Monday after authorities announced the hanging had taken place early that morning.

But with security stepped up at flashpoints across the country of some 200 million, most dispersed peacefully.

“Police have been heavily deployed across the capital today,” a police official in Islamabad told AFP.

“We have manned all the main junctions close to the procession route and sensitive buildings,” he said, adding that up to 3,000 officers were on the streets.

All schools and universities remained closed for the day after shutting early Monday.

A police official in Rawalpindi said similar numbers were deployed there, including hundreds brought in from other districts as well as paramilitary Rangers forces.

Liaquat Bagh, the park in Rawalpindi where the funeral ceremony will be held, is tinged with political significance: it is where Pakistani prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951, and the site of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2007.

Rightwing groups lead rallies nationwide against convicted murderer of Salmaan Taseer.

Thousands protested across Pakistan on Monday against the execution of a man hailed by hardline Islamists as a hero for killing a provincial governor who was seeking reform of the blasphemy law.

Protests against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri were held in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and several smaller cities, with demonstrators burning tyres and chanting slogans. But most rallies dispersed peacefully after security was stepped up at flashpoints across the country of some 200 million, including in Rawalpindi where hundreds of supporters gathered at Qadri’s family home.

Qadri, a police bodyguard to Salmaan Taseer, shot the liberal Punjab governor 28 times at an Islamabad market in 2011. He said he was angry at the politician’s calls to reform the blasphemy law.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the Islamic republic, and Qadri was hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out calls to soften the legislation. Critics say the law, which carries the death penalty, is largely misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges.

Analyst Hasan Askari said the next 24 hours would be “sensitive” for the government, adding that Islamabad had weighed the danger of mass violence against the need to “wash away the suspicion” of sympathy for militancy.

The biggest protest was held in Karachi on Monday afternoon, with around 7,000 people taking to the streets. In Lahore, around 1000 people protested, while hundreds others demonstrated in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Peshawar, Multan, and other smaller cities. Up to 900 people demonstrated in Quetta.

Qadri was hanged in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail early Monday, said senior local police official Sajjid Gondal. National media played down news of the execution and the protests on orders of the government, two senior anchors told AFP.

Most channels led their bulletins with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s win for best short documentary at the Oscars.

Mosques near Qadri’s family home broadcast the news, with cries heard from inside the house as hundreds of mourners arrived. The funeral is expected to be held today.

“I have no regrets,” said Qadri’s brother Malik Abid, tears rolling down his cheeks, while women chanted nearby. He said the family had been called to the prison Sunday evening by officials who said Qadri was unwell. But when they arrived, Qadri greeted them with the news that authorities had deceived them and that his execution was imminent.

“I am proud of the martyrdom of my son,” said Qadri’s father Bashir Awan, adding he was ready to sacrifice all five of his other sons “for the honor of [Islam’s] Prophet.”

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Feb 29, (Agencies): Pakistan Monday hanged the man who killed a provincial governor for seeking reform of the blasphemy law, angering Islamist supporters who had feted Mumtaz Qadri as a hero and threatened violence if he was executed. Security was stepped up at flashpoints across the country including the garrison city of Rawalpindi where hundreds of supporters gathered at Qadri’s family home, as officials braced for protests from hardliners.

Qadri, a police bodyguard to Salman Taseer, shot the liberal Punjab governor 28 times at an Islamabad market in 2011. He said he was angry at the politician’s calls to reform the blasphemy law. Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the Islamic republic of some 200 million, and Qadri was hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out calls to soften the legislation.

Critics, including European governments, say the law — which carries the death penalty — is largely misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges. Analyst Hasan Askari said the next 24 hours would be “sensitive” for the government, adding that Islamabad had weighed the danger of mass violence against the need to “wash away the suspicion” of sympathy for militancy. “Qadri was hanged in Adiala jail early Monday morning” in Rawalpindi, senior local police official Sajjid Gondal told AFP. Mosques near Qadri’s family home in Rawalpindi broadcast the news, with cries heard from inside the house as hundreds of mourners arrived.

Paramilitary Ranger forces and police in riot gear as well as ambulances and dozens of police vehicles were stationed at the house early Monday. But they had melted away by midmorning, an AFP reporter said, leaving mourners forming a queue roughly a kilometre long to view the body on display at a nearby compound. “I have no regrets,” Qadri’s brother Malik Abid told AFP, tears rolling down his cheeks, while women chanted nearby. He said the family had been called to the prison Sunday evening by officials who said Qadri was unwell. But when they arrived, Qadri greeted them with the news that authorities had deceived them and that his execution was imminent.

Hugged
“We started crying, but he hugged us and chanted ‘God is great’,” Abid said. “I am proud of the martyrdom of my son,” Qadri’s father Bashir Awan told AFP, adding he was ready to sacrifice all five of his other sons “for the honour of the Prophet”. Justice Pakistan’s second largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami said it planned protests in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi for Monday afternoon. But the national media downplayed the news.

Most channels led their bulletins with Pakistan’s win for best foreign documentary at the Oscars. Earlier, authorities blocked roads in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, bringing morning traffic to a standstill. Protesters in Islamabad burned tyres and briefly attacked a local news van. In the port mega-city of Karachi, demonstrators blocked main intersections. Police said security had been tightened there and in the eastern city of Lahore, while hundreds also protested in Pakistani-held Kashmir.

 
Qadri’s lawyers drew on Islamic texts to argue that he was justified in killing Taseer, saying that by criticizing the law the politician was himself guilty of blasphemy. That argument was rejected by the Supreme Court, which in December upheld the death sentence, sparking rallies.

Pakistan ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in December 2014. Last month authorities announced they had executed 332 people since then.

Rights group Amnesty International condemned the execution. “The death penalty is always a human rights violation, regardless of the circumstances or nature of the crime,” said the group’s South Asia regional director, Champa Patel.

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