Mumtaz Qadri, convicted for the murder of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, was executed in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail early Monday morning, jail and Punjab police said.
Qadri, commando of Police’s elite force shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011. He was sentenced to death for assassinating Taseer on Oct 1 the same year.
In October 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan maintained the conviction of Qadri by an Anti-Terrorism Court, overturning Islamabad High Court’s March 9 verdict, which had dismissed Qadri’s appeal against his death sentence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) but accepted his plea to void Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act’s (ATA).
The government had approached the apex court for including the terrorism charges as a second offence in the punishment.
The court warned at the time that in Islam a false accusation can be as serious as the blasphemy itself, and that calls for blasphemy law reform “ought not to be mistaken as a call for doing away with that law”.
The Supreme Court dismissed Qadri’s review petition against his death sentence in December last year, with the judge heading the bench observing that the petition could neither establish errors floating in the judgment nor blasphemy charges against the former governor.
Qadri said he killed Taseer over what he called the politician’s vocal opposition to blasphemy laws of the country.
His mercy appeal was rejected by President Mamnoon Hussain.
“I can confirm that Qadri was hanged in Adialia jail early Monday morning,” senior local police official Sajjid Gondal told AFP.
Cries were heard from inside Qadri’s house as hundreds of men and women gathered, and mosques could be heard broadcasting news of the execution, an AFP reporter there said.
“I have no regrets,” Qadri’s brother Malik Abid told AFP, tears rolling down his cheeks.
He said the family had been called to the prison Sunday evening by officials who said Qadri was unwell.
But when they arrived, he greeted them with the news that authorities had deceived them, and that his execution was imminent.
“We started crying, but he hugged us,” Abid said.
Two weeks after Taseer was killed, the only Christian minister in the federal cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, was gunned down in Islamabad. He too was a critic of the blasphemy laws.
In August 2011, Taseer’s son was kidnapped from his car in Lahore. Shahbaz Taseer’s wherabouts remain untraced.
Since the murder, Qadri had gained support of many religious parties from Pakistan. Followers showered him with rose petals and went on to kiss him and praise him for the work they considered he had done for Islam by eliminating a man who spoke up against the blasphemy law.