Racist will remain alive and well groom in Pakistan
IHC saved Qadri’s skin
By – Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court – IHC on March 09, 2015, verdict on Mumtaz Qardi case upholding his conviction under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code – PPC on killing the former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. A two member bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui dismissed the appeal. The ruling by IHC was a surprise in two ways; A): many had expected the killer’s sentence might be reduced amid growing threats to lawyers and judges hearing blasphemy-related cases. B): Many believe that IHC has saved Qadri skin while upholding the conviction of Mumtaz Qadri under section 302 and 7ATA void.

The bench had reserve the judgment on February 11 after advocate general Islamabad Mian Abdul Rauf, the prosecutor in the case, and Qadri’s counsels, including former Lahore High Court – LHC chief justice Khawaja Sharif and retired Justice Mian Nazeer – concluded their arguments. I am quite surprised that when people like former chief justice LHC and justice retired Mian Nazeer will remain in back of the racialist like Mumtaz Qardi, how can this society be changed. Certainly racists will alive and well groom in Pakistan. I can’t say anything against Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui because he is sitting judge. However he is reportedly the same person, who has been seen kissing and garlanding the killer of Salman Taseer. The blasphemy law has been extensively misused not only to target the minorities but also by Muslims against Muslims to settle personal score. Even former Federal Religious Affairs Minister Ejazul Haq admitted in November 2005 that the blasphemy law was being misused and expressed the government’s desire to bring amendments to it. Hundreds of the innocent people had been imprisoned, forced to flee the country or killed by extremists under the pretext of punishing blasphemers. One of known Christian Gulshan Masih from the capital was forced to flee when he was accused of blasphemy. According to the sources FIR 96/12 was registered against him because he has been supporting the Shahbaz Bhatti case, which was killed, right out of his residence in I-8 Sector in Islamabad. Bhatti was killed for supporting Asia Bibi and Salman Taseer was killed for supporting Asia bibi as well. Sources confirm that he is now seeking asylum in some other European country, probably Denmark. Gulshan has reportedly been supporting the construction of the Church in Central Jail Adyala, Rawalpindi.

Within minutes of the verdict, a celebration was seen in IHC premises where supporters distributed sweetmeats and they shared their joy. Their happiness was shared by those who defended Mumtaz Qadri in the court. When the IHC uphold the murder cases against Qadri for killing former governor Salman Taseer, his lawyers were happy that the terrorism charges against Qadri had been dropped. Qadri was employed to provide security to Taseer, killed the latter in January 2011 in Kohsar Market, Islamabad, where hundreds of the people saved their lives hiding when shot him. He was convicted by the anti terrorism court – ATC in October the same year, under both section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act and under section 302 of Pakistan Penal code respectively. IHC division bench set aside his conviction under section 7 of the ATA but uphold the death sentence under 302 of the PPC. I don’t know the definition of 7ATA, but certainly it was reported that hundreds of the people have saved their live in hiding themselves when Qadri was firing in the day light. This means that Qadri is guilty of murder but not terrorism. Some of them even made impromptu, fiery speeches and chanted slogans in favor of Taseer’s killer. I am not expert in covering crime cases but certainly facing the same situation in the country know that Qadri team could appeal that his trail had been unfair one – the trail had been carried out in ATC although now Qadri is no longer charged with a terrorist act. Qadri’s lawyers can request the court to retrial as the ATC cannot try ordinary murder cases. They actually played technically, if ATA remain in the case, it may be transferred to the military court.

The future will be that the team will go to the Supreme Court to appeal that this conviction and death sentence had been uphold. I don’t know the government lawyers of Salman Taseer’s family would appeal the decision or challenging the order. Legal experts also pointed out the loopholes that will work to Qadri’s advantage with this judgment. They said that the conviction under only the PPC (no the terrorism law) means that Qadri was now guilty of a compoundable offence. They pointed out the Qadri could go free if the Taseer family pardoned him or go for life imprisonment and after few years he will be free. A senior law officer of the federal government, on the condition of anonymity, predicted that there were few changes of the government going into appeal. Normally lawyers are reluctant to appear in theses. I am afraid and keeping in view of the present situation can predict that courts will drop ATA charges against Shahbaz Bhatti case in one day or other.

Most of my past articles and story intimate that the only hope for religious minorities in Pakistan is for all religious faiths including the Sunni majority learn to accept each other in harmonious tolerance regardless of religious differences. AND in most cases I would agree to mutual tolerance; however the problem I have is that Islamic revered writings specifically encourages violence up to and including death to all unbelievers (define as kafir in Islam) who refuse to subject and submit their beliefs to Islamic Supremacy. On a personal level then I am not going to tolerate a religious faith that will not tolerate my faith just because I refuse to shut up about Jesus Christ being the Son of God. I have always been writing that we want to bring change not only in the constitution but also want to change the mindset. It not Islam we are against but the Islamophobia. At least the justice system should be transparent and fair so that deprived portion in the society can live without fear from either sides. Minorities are always live under constant fear either be killed by extremists under the pretext of punishing blasphemers or in the courts.

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