IHC reserves decision on Mumtaz Qadri's appeal against death sentence

Updated February 11, 2015

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Mumtaz Qadri, the policeman who murdered Punjab governor Salman Taseer. — Reuters/File
Mumtaz Qadri, the policeman who murdered Punjab governor Salman Taseer. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal against his death sentence in a case pertaining to the murder of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

A two-member bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, heard the appeal against Qadri's conviction.

During the hearing, Qadri's counsel Mian Nazir Akhtar contended that Pakistan is a Muslim country, not a western or a secular nation, adding that the Holy Quran is referred in order to resolve disputes between an individual and the state.

To this, Justice Shaukat remarked whether terming a sacred law as a black law would come under the domain of blasphemy. He further added that nothing could justify the murder of the victim.

Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf, who was representing the federal government, said that any allegations against Taseer should have been proved in the court. He said there was no war of words between Qadri and the former Punjab governor, adding that the accused was not authorised in any way to take the law in his own hands.

Rauf further said that extra judicial killing is against the Constitution and law and added that Qadri's crime was known to all and therefore the court should dismiss his appeal.

The court subsequently reserved its decision on Qadri's death appeal.

Taseer was assassinated by his security guard associated with the Punjab Elite Force, Mumtaz Qadri, on Jan 4, 2011 at Kohsar Market in Islamabad because of the politician's vocal opposition to the country's harsh blasphemy laws.

Qadri was awarded the death sentence by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Oct 2011.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.

Two high-profile politicians – Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti – were murdered in 2011 after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law. The politicians also described the trial of Asia Bibi — a Christian woman who has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) during an argument with a Muslim woman as flawed.