IHC verdict cleverly saves Taseer’s killer from immediate execution, paves way for his glorification

qadriHaving failed to find any justification to condone cold-blooded killing of Governor Taseer by his own bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri, Islamabad High Court (IHC) upheld his death sentence under Section-302 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The court, however, played safe and made sure to strike out a terrorism conviction, making it unlikely the Punjab Police Constable deputed for Taseer security will be executed soon.

The government of Nawaz Sharif, under pressure from mighty establishment, has ordered immediate execution of terror convicts.

Qadri was being defended in the court by two judicial luminaries; one retired chief justice and another retired judge of Lahore High Court who tried to convince IHC that murder of Governor Taseer was justified by his own bodyguard. IHC dismissed the appeal against the death sentence but declared Qadri’s death sentence under the Anti-Terrorism Act null and void. Qadri admitted shooting Taseer, saying he objected to the politician’s calls to reform Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws which can carry the death penalty.

Related story: What is more disturbing in Salman Taseer’s murder; crime or its glorification?

An anti-terrorism court handed down double death sentences for murder and terrorism to Qadri in late 2011. However, the self-confessed killer of the former governor Punjab had filed an appeal in the court against his conviction which the IHC dismissed.  Qadri shot Taseer outside an upmarket coffee shop in Islamabad, saying he objected to the politician’s calls to reform strict blasphemy laws. Qadri’s lawyer Justice Mian Nazeer said they had not yet decided about appealing to the Supreme Court, but were pleased with the ruling on the terrorism charges.

Earlier, Qadri’s case took an interesting turn when the IHC remarked that even a judge cannot touch an accused after awarding him punishment, yet the defense counsel insisted that a person can kill another person under unusual circumstances. Earlier, on February 7 when the two judges resumed hearing in the case of the case, Justice Siddiqui questioned whether the case should be decided on the basis of emotions or the letter of the law.

Counsel for Qadri Justice (retd) Mian Nazir Akhar insisted that “anyone can be killed under unusual circumstances.” Quoting examples from Islamic history, he mentioned incidents in which blasphemers were killed for making derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and their act was appreciated by the then rulers.

The judge who convicted Qadri was forced to flee the country after death threats.

Related story: Blasphemy Law is responsible for extremism, says known Islamic scholar

According to laws of the land, glorification of the acts of personality of terror convict is a crime. After this verdict, the murder will be glorified without any legal hinderance.