KARACHI: An alliance of several religious parties on Friday staged a sit-in at the Numaish traffic intersection, demanding that the government review the death sentence handed down to Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, and sought his release.
Holding placards and portraits of Qadri, a large number of people participated in the demonstration that was organised by the alliance of several parties representing mainly the Barelvi school of thought, the Tehreek-i-Rehai Ghazi Mumtaz Hussain Qadri.
In their address, the leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani), Pakistan Sunni Tehreek, Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, Sunni Alliance, Sunni Ittehad Council and other parties warned the government that implementation of the death sentence would cause anger among the people of Pakistan who loved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more than themselves.
“We believe that Mumtaz Qadri is not a terrorist,” said Shahid Ghori of the Sunni Tehreek. “We are not opting for any agitation or violence in streets, but we have an argument to prove our point. That’s the reason why we are challenging his conviction and want government to pay heed to our argument.”
They also announced that a programme titled ‘Labbaik Ya Rasoolullah Conference’ would be organised by their alliance on Dec 6 in Karachi.
Mufti Mohammad Abid Mubarak Madni of the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat said that any segment of society that believed the conviction was justified could have a debate on the subject on moral, religious and legal grounds. The people gathered on M.A. Jinnah Road to defend him had enough points to prove that he should be exonerated, he added.
“We are making a point for dialogue and not confrontation,” said Shah Owais Noorani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan. “History proves our regard and respect for the Constitution of Pakistan, its institutions and the law of the land. As the Constitution defines blasphemy as a crime, it is beyond anyone’s understanding as to how a person who came forward to protect that law can be declared a terrorist.”
The sit-in that began after Friday prayers continued for more than four hours and concluded after sunset. It took the huge crowd almost an hour to disperse and traffic to normalise.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2015