IHC decides to indefinitely sit on Qadri’s verdict

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A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, Wednesday reserved its verdict on Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal against his death sentence in a case pertaining to the murder of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

During the hearing, Qadri’s counsel Mian Nazir Akhtar contended that Pakistan is a Muslim country, not a western or a secular nation, where the Quran is referred in order to resolve disputes between an individual and the State.

Citing PLD-1992 Supreme Court Hakim Khan case, Akhtar argued that Taseer was liable to be awarded “harshest punishment” for committing blasphemy if the statements given by him were reviewed in the Islamic perspective.

“Taseer’s blasphemy is a part of print and electronic media record. I hope court will give relief to my client as per Quran and Sunnah.”

Representing the federal government, Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf said that any allegations against Taseer should have been proved in the court. He said there was no war of words between Qadri and the former Punjab governor and the accused was not authorised in any way to take the law in his own hands.

Rauf further said that extra judicial killing is against the Constitution and that Qadri’s crime was known to all and therefore the court should dismiss his appeal.

Establishing that nothing could justify murder, Justice Siddiqui inquired from Qadri’s counsel if terming a sacred law as black law came under the domain of blasphemy.

The court subsequently reserved its decision on Qadri’s death appeal and adjourned the hearing of the case indefinitely.

Taseer was assassinated by his security guard associated with the Punjab Elite Force, Mumtaz Qadri, on January 4, 2011 at Kohsar Market in Islamabad because of the politician’s vocal opposition to the country’s harsh blasphemy laws. Qadri was awarded the death sentence by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on October 2011.