Islamabad: Pakistani investigators are looking for a cleric who had motivated elite security force protector Malik Mumtaz Qadri to assassinate Punjab governor Salman Taseer.
Taseer’s bodyguard Qadri had opened fire on him because of the governor’s support for the release of Pakistani-Christian woman Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.
During investigations, Qadri revealed that he had been motivated by a cleric, ‘QH’, of Rawalpindi, sources told Dawn.
According to the sources, Qadri had attended a congregation on December 31 near his house in Sadiqabad, Rawalpindi, where the cleric delivered a speech on blasphemy.
Influenced by the speech, Qadri met the cleric separately and discussed with him the issue of killing people committing blasphemy. The cleric encouraged Qadri to kill, when he asked how to deal with a blasphemer, the sources added.
“After the motivation I decided to kill the governor,” Qadri reportedly told the investigators.
Details about the cleric have been collected and his name has been put on the list of ‘wanted’ men, but despite several raids, the police have so far been unsuccessful in catching QH or tracing his whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the investigators have detained another Elite Force man, who is a member of the prime minister’s security squad, and a friend of Qadri, who used to discuss the issue of blasphemy with him.
According to the sources, an official of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority was also picked up for his alleged role in motivating Qadri.
The sources said that Qadri had links with different religious groups. The links were first revealed during a scrutiny of the Punjab Elite Force following two attempts on the life of former president Pervez Musharraf in 2005. At that time, Qadri was with the Rawalpindi Special Branch, but was transferred to the Police Lines in 2006.