ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain’s family has confined itself to the Presidency for fear of a backlash as he is expected to decide the clemency plea of Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of Punjab’s former governor Salmaan Taseer.
Qadri, a former police commando, assassinated Taseer in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011 for his support to a blasphemy accused. An Anti-Terrorism Court convicted and condemned him to death – a ruling also upheld by the Islamabad High Court and Supreme Court.
A review petition of Qadri was also turned down by the top court on December 14 last year, leaving him with the last option of to file a clemency appeal to the president.
Religious parties have threatened nationwide protests if Qadri is hanged. In view of a possible backlash, the president’s family has been moved from Karachi to the Presidency in Islamabad, sources told The Express Tribune.
Currently, only the president and the prime minister are provided security under the ‘Blue Category’ – the highest security protocol for anyone in Pakistan. “Despite these heavy protocols, security of the president has been further beefed up as he is about to decide the mercy appeal of Qadri,” said an official privy to the development.
The president has three sons. And the official said last year one of his sons, Salman Mamnoon, escaped a bomb attack on his convoy in Hub, near Karachi. Three people were killed in the attack claimed by a banned separatist group, Baloch Liberation Army.
Another senior security official told The Express Tribune that overall security in Islamabad would also be reviewed if Qadri’s mercy plea was rejected by the president. “Security situation will be reviewed following the decision. And most probably the district administration will impose Section 144 in the capital,” he said. Secretary to the President Shahid Khan refused to comment on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2016.