LAHORE: Hundreds of people protested across the country on Friday against the death sentence handed out to Mumtaz Qadri. The rallies were organised by several groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat and Jamiat-i-Ahle Hadith.
Those present demanded the immediate release of Qadri, who murdered Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in January. Protestors also pleaded with Presidant Asif Zardari to pardon Qadri, who they said was not an assassin but a “soldier of Islam … defending the ideology of Pakistan.”
In Lahore, on the call of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), a partial strike was observed in the city. Shops on Ferozepur Road, Queens Road, The Mall and Hall Roads were closed. More than 2,000 protesters chanted slogans in favour of Qadri and against the Punjab government and the judge who sentenced him.
(Read: Qadri supporters stage Mall sit-in)
SIC chairman Haji Fazal Kareem, addressing the protesters, said that they would continue protesting until the release of Qadri. He also urged the participants not to be afraid of any government action in this “noble cause”, before asking the crowd to promise to make Pakistan a pure Islamic state.
Bahawalpur also saw different religious organisations and political parties, including Sunni Tehrik and Jamat-e-Islami, protest against the sentence. In the Hazara Division there was also a partial strike.
In Islamabad’s Aabpara intersection, about 1,000 people reportedly protested; Rawalpindi saw the closure of markets and road blockages.
A few pockets of Karachi were closed, though the strike failed to shut shops and businesses in most parts of the city.
Qadri Judge to be transferred
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry has issued a transfer order for District and Sessions Judge Pervez Ali Shah, who was already on leave, after he sentenced Mumtaz Qadri to death for the murder of Salmaan Taseer. The chief justice has posted Shah from an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi to the Child Protection Court Lahore.
(With additional reporting from Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Multan)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.