ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has today Tuesday, 3 February, 2015 heard Qadri’s appeal petition, the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, against his death sentence which was given in 2011 by the Anti Terrorism Court of Islamabad. A two-member bench of comprising Justice Noor-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui re-issued a notice to Taseer’s legal heirs.
More than 50 lawyers, including former chief justice of Lahore High Court Khawaja Sharif the main leading counsel of Qadri’s appeal case, were present in the court for his defense.
Reportedly, the important records related to the Salman Taseer murder case mysteriously disappeared from the office of the attorney general in the Islamabad High Court after the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri was fixed for hearing last week.
The IHC during last hearing of the case granted one-week time to the prosecutors for arguments against Qadri‘s appeal and adjourned the hearing of the case till today,3 February.
Lahore High Court confirmed the death sentence of Asia Bibi on 16 October, 2014, who is languishing in jail since 2009 after given death sentence. She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim co-workers women objected, saying that as a Christian she was impure to touch the water bowl. Now her final appeal is pending in Supreme Court of Pakistan.
It was the factor in the 2011 assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province because he vehemently campaigned for Bibi’s release and for reexamine of the blasphemy law. Religious extremists were outraged by Taseer’s voice for Christian woman, and he was shot dead by his own police security guard in Islamabad.
Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill said, “It is an obscene law and it is being used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion.”
“It makes religious minorities particularly vulnerable because it’s often used against them”, he added.
Gill said if Qadri’s appeal would be accepted and he would be released then the risk of attacks on victims of blasphemy law and their campaigners particularly would be increased.
Pakistani Christians feel subjugation in the presence of blasphemy law because no one’s life is secure in the country until these laws are on books.Last year in November a Christian Couple was burned alive after leveling a false allegation of burning some Quranic papers.
We at LEAD request you all human rights organizations and Defenders to raise your voice against the misuse of blasphemy law and those elements who extend life threats towards the rights campaigners and who advocate the victims of these laws.