Malik Mumtaz Qadri leaves a court in Islamabad on Wednesday, a day after he gunned down Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer. (AP)
By AZHAR MASOOD | ARAB NEWS
Published: Jan 6, 2011 01:37 Updated: Jan 6, 2011 01:37
ISLAMABAD: The killer of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was showered with rose petals by lawyers when he was presented Wednesday before District and Sessions Judge Malik Naeem Shaukat by police. The court gave Islamabad police remand of Malik Mumtaz Qadri for a day.
Qadri was brought to court in an armored car. A rowdy crowd slapped him on the back and kissed him as he was escorted inside the court. The lawyers who tossed the rose petals were not involved in the case.
As he left the court, a crowd of about 200 sympathizers raised slogans in his favor.
Earlier, more than 500 preachers and scholars from the Jamat Ahle Sunnat group said no one should pray or express regret for the killing of the governor. The group representing Pakistan’s majority Barelvi sect also issued a veiled threat to other opponents of the blasphemy laws.
“The supporter is as guilty as one who committed blasphemy,” the group warned in a statement, adding politicians, the media and others should learn “a lesson from the exemplary death.” Jamat leader Maulana Shah Turabul Haq Qadri paid “glorious tribute to the murderer … for his courage, bravery and religious honor and integrity.”
Local religious heads, including the imam of the Badshahi Mosque, refused to lead funeral prayer for the slain governor. A religious scholar from Pakistan People’s Party, Afzal Chishti, led Taseer’s funeral prayer. Taseer was later laid to rest with full honors.
Ironically, Salman Taseer’s father, Muhammad Din Taseer, had led funeral prayer for Ilamuddin Shaheed, who killed Rajpal, an accused blasphemer, in 1923. Rajpal had published a book written by Krishan Prashad Pratap making fun of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Mumtaz Qadri told interrogators Tuesday that he shot Taseer multiple times because of the politician’s vocal opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Qadri pumped more than 20 rounds from his assault rifle into Taseer’s back in an Islamabad street on Tuesday. The commando, who had been assigned to protect his victim, has yet to be charged with a crime.
Taseer’s son Shehryar lodged a report with police Wednesday, naming Malik Mumtaz Qadri as his father’s killer.
Questions have arisen about whether others were involved in the assassination and why Qadri was assigned to Taseer’s detail.
Faisal Raza Abdi, political adviser to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, said officials with the Punjab police told him that months ago the department had deemed Qadri a security risk because he had extremist views, and said he should not be assigned to protect high-profile figures.
Abdi said he was told that assessment was part of the investigation. He said the fact that Qadri was allowed to guard Taseer suggested others may have played a role in the killing.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters that the government has launched an “all-out investigation” to find out how a fanatic was placed on the governor’s security detail. Sources told Arab News that “others knew about Mumtaz Qadri’s intentions and they arrested him alive so that he would make a religious hero.”
— With input from agencies