Deviating from his party line, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) surprised his colleagues in the lower house including his party when he demanded the government release former Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s murderer.
Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the elite police commando in Taseer’s personal security, had gunned him down in Islamabad’s uptown market in January 2011.
“I demand that Malik Mumtaz Qadri be freed immediately,” said PTI MNA from Mardan, Mujahid Ali who triggered a buzz in the house after concluding his statement. Speaking on the budget, the PTI member did not elaborate on the reasons for his demand. Later, his party dissociated itself from his demand calling it an individual act.
Another PTI MNA Arif Alvi clarified that Ali had made this demands in his personal capacity, and this had nothing to do with the party. “The party’s policy will remain under the country’s law and the Constitution,” said Alvi. Ali was elected to assembly from NA-11 Mardan-III.
Talking to The Express Tribune Mujahid Ali said that he will not retract his statement and clearly conveyed this to his party leadership. PTI’s MNA Ali Muhammad Khan, who is also from Mardan, told The Express Tribune that the party cannot prevent a member from airing his personal opinion and therefore no action will be taken against Ali on the basis of his demand.
PTI President Javed Hashmi said on Twitter in-connection with the party’s policy on Mumtaz Qadri’s Issue that, “PTI believes in Justice above all.”
Nevertheless, there was no strong acknowledgement of Ali’s speech. During Thursday’s session, the members of the Lower House remained engaged in ridiculing each other, resulting in a bruising debate on the budget.
Later in reference to Mujahid Ali’s demand for release of Qadri, a Pakistan People Party (PPP) MNA Sardar Kamal Chang said that within the democratic setup, only the Constitution will be followed for some mullahs and terrorists are trying to impose their version of Islam on us. “Stop it,” he emphasised, adding that we only follow Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and are not alarmed by anyone else.
Kamal Chang held Ziaul Haq responsible for the country’s deplorable situation being confronted today. “The PPP members are small in number but we will not allow democracy to derail,” he added.
Earlier in 2011, PTI chairman Imran Khan had condemned Qadri’s reception as a hero on the premises of the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi. “Extremism and radicalism have penetrated our society deeply,” he said, adding that it is primarily harmful for the youth of the nation.
Qadri never argued that he had not killed Taseer. Shortly after he shot the late governor dead, Qadri revealed that Taseer’s apparent opposition to the country’s blasphemy law was his main motive. However, if the murder wasn’t shocking enough, it was the stringent defence put up by religious parties, whose activists showered rose petals on Qadri at his court hearing and brought him flowers on Valentine’s Day, including setting up Facebook pages in order to glorify him.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.