The guilty verdict for the killing of former Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer was upheld yesterday.
During an Islamabad High Court division bench hearing, comprising of Mr.Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Mr.Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, it was decided to reserve a verdict on the murder appeal of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of Salman Taseer.
Qadri’s counsel pleaded with the judges for his freedom stating that Pakistan is a Muslim country as opposed to a western or a secular nation. He asked for clemency for Mumtaz Qadri, providing references from Islamic history in which the blasphemers were killed for making derogatory remarks against the Prophet of Islam. He declared that their act of killing was endorsed and appreciated by Muhammed the prophet of Islam. The Defence counsel explained that his client had killed Mr Salman Taseer because of his opposition to the blasphemy law. He further pleaded that the matter between individual and the state should be referred to the Quran, contending that the matter involves religion and should be referred to Federal Shariah Court.
Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf, who was representing the federal government, argued that extrajudicial killing is against the constitution and laws of Pakistan. He reminded the bench that Mumtaz Qadri’s crime was known internationally and that any unfair decision would darken the reputation of Pakistan who were a democratic not theocratic country. He called for the court to dismiss the appeal.
Justice Shaukat remarked;
“Saying the blasphemy law is a black law and opposition against it would come under the domain of blasphemy.”
However, He further added;
“Nothing at all could justify the extra-judicial murder of any victim.”
After hearing the arguments the Court reserved the verdict against Qadri’s appeal.
Since November 2010, Asia Bibi a Christian mother has been languishing in prison after she was convicted under section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code. She currently has a death sentence imposed on her which has been suspended after a moratorium on all death sentences in Pakistan in 2010. However the moratorium on death sentence has been lifted for crimes of terrorism in the wake of the Peshawar School attack December 9th 2014.
Extremist and conservative groups are calling for the death sentence to be lifted on cases of blasphemy, an act that the BPCA would abhor. Asia Bibi awaits a Supreme court appeal hearing on her unjust charges, we pray that, as in this case, judges involved make a just decision despite external pressures.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said;
“A few years ago we had more faith in the Pakistani legal system in the High and Supreme courts. However, a raft of poor decisions have eroded that trust. Extremists now yield power over the higher and lower courts, considering the failure of Asia’s High Court Appeal. The loss of this appeal hearing for Mumtaz Qadri, will no doubt redouble efforts to see Asia Bibi’s Supreme court Appeal fail. If this is the case it would take a brave Prime Minister to free Asia Bibi by Presidential Pardon, however, this is a duty the leader of a nation should commit himself too despite external pressures. Justice must be seen to be done or international scrutiny will increase.”
and sentenced to death.Since from the accusation to death conviction,she is languishing in jail. Two high-profile politicians ,Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed in 2011 after advocating for reforms to the blasphemy law.