LONDON: Former president Pervez Musharraf on Saturday laid responsibility on the state for punishing the self-confessed killer of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.
“The assassination of … Taseer was wrong and his murderer should be punished,” said Musharraf at a conference of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) in London. Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri – the man who shot the governor on January 4 – should not be permitted to challenge the state’s writ, according to Musharraf.
The former military ruler said that since Muslims are very emotional about the blasphemy law, “the controversial law must stay” in Pakistan. However, he said, the Islamic concepts of ijtehad and ijma should be used to see what can be done about the miscarriage of justice.
Asked why he had not amended the blasphemy law when he was in power, Musharraf said he had introduced some procedural changes requiring complainants to go to the judiciary rather than the police stations to file complaints.
The economy in his opinion is one of the biggest challenges facing Pakistan which is beset by hyperinflation and bankruptcy. About his arch-rival Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf said his deadlines and demands were non-serious. Sharif has connections with the Taliban, he said, which is why he does not openly condemn them.
Earlier he announced the opening of APML offices in Quetta and Dera Bugti and the nomination of his party’s office-bearers. The news was greeted with loud applause.
Musharraf’s party has also set up chapters in the US and Canada where he claimed he had received a good response from the Pakistani diaspora.
To consolidate his party, Musharraf intends to travel by train throughout Britain and meet supporters. During the meeting he reiterated his resolve to return to Pakistan well before the next elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2011.