Policeman kills blasphemy accused in Adiala jail

Published: September 25, 2014
Zafar Bhatti was killed while 70-year-old Muhammad Asghar was wounded in the attack. PHOTO: AFP

Zafar Bhatti was killed while 70-year-old Muhammad Asghar was wounded in the attack. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A policeman shot two men in jail on Thursday, killing one accused of blasphemy and wounding another condemned to death on the same charge, lawyers and an activist said.

Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed and 70-year-old British man Muhammad Asghar, who has a history of mental illness, was wounded in the attack in Rawalpindi, next to the capital, Islamabad.

In recent weeks, Bhatti had received death threats in prison from both inmates and guards, his family told a human rights group Life for All. He was being held in the same cell as Asghar.

“This is a barbaric act. There had been threats. The court should have instructed police to ensure Bhatti’s safety,” said Xavier Williams of Life for All.

Asghar, from Edinburgh, was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January after a disgruntled tenant presented letter she had written saying he was a prophet.

Asghar had previously been detained under the mental health act in Britain and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia,  according to documents his lawyers supplied to Reuters.

His lawyers were barred from attending the last few months of his trial. The law firm asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted by extremists.

This year has seen a record number of blasphemy accusations,  according to an Islamabad-based think-tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies.

Many analysts say the claims are increasingly used to settle scores or grab property. Blasphemy charges are hard to fight because the law does not define what is blasphemous. Presenting the evidence can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement.

Those accused of blasphemy are often lynched and lawyers in defending those accused of blasphemy cases have frequently been attacked.

Judges have been attacked for dismissing cases and many of the accused face years in jail as their trials drag on.

At least 48 people accused of blasphemy have been extrajudicially killed, including seven in prison or outside court, according to Life for All.

Earlier this year, a prominent human rights lawyer representing an English professor accused of making a blasphemous Facebook post was shot dead after prosecution lawyers had threatened to kill him in front of a judge.

Last week, gunmen shot dead a liberal professor of Islamic studies in Karachi. The killing followed years of threats from his colleagues and allegations of blasphemy.

Two prominent politicians who suggested reforming the law have been killed, one by his own bodyguard. Another politician who discussed reforming the law on television is now facing blasphemy charges.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • islam
    Sep 25, 2014 - 4:11PM

    It is imperative that a Fatwa be given that sets rules for persecution of blasphemy accused. Otherwise everyone will become a Qadri (assassin of Taseer)


  • Anoni
    Sep 25, 2014 - 4:40PM

    Please please provide education to people.

    Even the killer doesn’t know that Justice need to be served once proven guilty.. Not on basis of just because some one said so.. Islam preaches Justice .. some one tell these illiterate


  • Richard
    Sep 25, 2014 - 5:12PM

    All the Christian nations who give aid money to Pakistan should take note. Stop all aid, put Pakistan on notice for genocide and human rights abuse of minorities.


  • Alladitta
    Sep 25, 2014 - 5:20PM

    What, not even a single comment? Are we dead as a society.


  • fawad zaman khan
    Sep 25, 2014 - 5:45PM

    A madrassa in nearby area dropped pamphlets in houses seeking hides during Qurbani days. The pamphlets have all four sacred words “Muhammad”, “Islam”, “Allah”, and “Quran”. Now, isnt this the worst blasphemy ever committed?
    ET. Make sure not to delete or filter my comment. Blasphemy committed by Muslims should be punished even more severely. I am helpless and cant do anything. But let me raise my voice online. I have to let it out.


  • SRahman
    Sep 25, 2014 - 5:49PM

    Very sad…. where were we heading…. a totally cruel and barbaric society. Only Allah can bless us otherwise we have become ignorant and fanatic insane society.


  • Observer
    Sep 25, 2014 - 6:02PM

    These news of atrocities are now seeing light because of the liberal, civilized and widespread media. Don’t know what was the situation before all this. Where are all the Pakistan’s minorities gone? What happend to them? Killed or left the country?


  • LifeH2O
    Sep 25, 2014 - 7:24PM

    Blasphemy law is all politics. If one attempts to change it, both constitutional and religious Molvi’s will ignite people against.Recommend

  • CC
    Sep 25, 2014 - 7:36PM

    This madness will not stop until these laws are changed, and until the courts make a mockery out of the Muslims misusing them for their own agenda. Sadly, I think that’s the only way they will learn.

    Enough is enough! We’re turning into the monsters that we sought independence from back in 1947!


  • Jjump off the cliff!
    Sep 25, 2014 - 7:38PM

    Yes, why not promoters of violent punishment should jump off the cliff themselves. Remember the knife you keep for others can kill innocents too. I remember a prominent interior minister calling TTP to take his revenge from his opponents for him on tv, last year.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 25, 2014 - 7:49PM

    Great beginning of Naya Pakistan.


  • Tariq
    Sep 25, 2014 - 7:49PM

    Why is Imran Khan silent on this? Where are comments by Nawaz Sharif or Bilawal? Where is Siraj ul haq on this matter? What about Altaf Bhai?

    We are a nation of cowards. Judges are cowards, politicians are cowards, lawyers are cowards, civil service bureaucrats are cowards, journalists are cowards, teachers are cowards, and this mindset has now filtered down to the common man. Nobody has the guts to take on these extremists. They all think that if they lock their doors and windows, and stay out of sight they and their families will be safe. They could not be more wrong. Nobody can hide from this tide of extremism. Sooner or later it will swallow everyone.

    Pity the nation.


  • syed baqar ahsan
    Sep 25, 2014 - 9:03PM

    Since All killers have no fear of death penalty since ban imposed by westerner countries while granting just $ 1 billion GSP trade status to Pakistan-


  • silverfox
    Sep 25, 2014 - 9:38PM

    @ch daad it’s your pmnl idiots who are responsible for having gullu butts in security services nisar should resign immediately


  • Sep 25, 2014 - 11:08PM

    There is no Law and justice in our country. every powerful can escape easily and poorer can be snatched for death.Recommend

  • Sep 25, 2014 - 11:10PM

    There is no justic for poor in our country


  • Peace
    Sep 25, 2014 - 11:38PM

    Laws are made to run the government smoothly; to protect citizens. If laws are formed under the pressure of favoritism then such clashes are sure to occur. But the good governess is busy somewhere else.
    The grim situation prevailing in Pakistan will not improve until the laws are reformed in earnest.
    Pathetic to see that happening in a country which was demanded in the name of religious freedom.


  • csmann
    Sep 26, 2014 - 12:25AM

    Naya Pakistan?? And not a word as to what was done to the policeman,which will be nothing as always.Recommend

  • saleem
    Sep 26, 2014 - 3:32AM

    There should now be vigilante squad who should actually eliminate those filing a case of blasphemy against anyone


  • Usama
    Sep 26, 2014 - 8:37AM

    And they tell the stories how Muhammad spared the woman who threw garbage on Him.


  • Moiz Omar
    Sep 26, 2014 - 12:53PM


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