The Governor of Punjab, was assassinated by his own bodyguard for standing up for Christian mother, Asia Bibi
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS – October 8, 2015) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a police bodyguard who killed a senior politician over his support for blasphemy law reform and for Asia Bibi, the mother-of-five who is still on death row.
Mumtaz Qadri was supposed to be guarding Punjab governor Salman Taseer in an Islamabad market in 2011 when he shot Taseer.
Shouting “God is great”, the guard shot Taseer 27 times (it took just three or four seconds) then put his hands up in the air and said to his fellow guards (the governor moved with more than 20 armed men) “Don’t shoot – arrest me.” They did.
According to the BBC< Qadri claimed it was his religious duty to kill the governor over his support for liberal reforms to blasphemy law, but was sentenced to death.
The failure of his appeal is a setback for the country’s religious extremists.
Qadri can still file for a review of the court ruling or appeal for a presidential pardon, but his lawyer told the BBC it was not yet decided.
Taseer was an outspoken critic of the harsh blasphemy law and had sought a presidential pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Her appeal is still pending with the Supreme Court.
The BBC went on to say that when Qadri killed the governor, he was hailed by many as a hero, and lawyers in Islamabad’s district courts garlanded him when he was taken there for hearings.
He was sentenced to death by a trial court in October 2011. The judge who passed the sentence was forced to leave the country due to threats by extremists and has not been heard from since.
How Punjab governor’s killer became a hero
The Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday (October 7, 2015) comes months after Pakistan lifted a seven-year moratorium on executions.
Under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.
Since 1990, at least 65 people have been killed in cases linked to blasphemy, according to data collected by Reuters news agency.
Photo captions: 1) Salman Taseer with Asia Bibi, a meeting that probably cost him his life. 2) Asia Bibi, who is awaiting her appeal. 3) Mumtaz Qadri has a lot of support among certain sections of Pakistani society (AFP). 4) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books.
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