Pak should punish Qadri, blasphemy law should stay: Musharraf

Musharraf said Muslims are very emotional about blasphemy law & it can stay.

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 23:46 PM IST

Islamabad: Former Pakistani military
dictator Pervez Mushrarraf has said that the killer of Punjab
governor Salmaan Tasser should be punished and not allowed to
challenge the writ of the state, but pledged support for the
controversial blasphemy law.

"The assassination of Taseer was wrong and his
murderer should be punished," Musharraf was quoted by The
Express Tribune newspaper as telling a conference of his All
Pakistan Muslim League part in London yesterday.

Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who shot the Governor,
should not be permitted to challenge the state`s writ,
Musharraf said.

Qadri, a member of the Elite Force that guards VIPs,
said he had gunned down Taseer for his criticism of Pakistan`s
controversial blasphemy law.

Taseer earned the ire of religious hardliners last
year when he spoke in defence of a Christian woman sentenced
to death for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed and sought
changes in the blasphemy law.

Musharraf said that since Muslims are very emotional
about the blasphemy statute, "the controversial law must stay"
in Pakistan.

However, the Islamic concepts of `ijtehad` (making a
decision through the independent interpretation of Islamic
legal sources) and `ijma` (consensus) should be used to see
what can be done about the miscarriage of justice, he said.

Asked why he had not amended the blasphemy law when he
was in power, Musharraf said he had introduced some procedural
changes that required complainants to go to the judiciary
rather than the police to file complaints.

Musharraf also spoke on other issues.

The economy, he said, was one of the biggest
challenges facing Pakistan, which is beset by hyperinflation
and bankruptcy.

He alleged that his arch-rival, PML-N chief Nawaz
Sharif, had connections with the Taliban and that is why he
did not openly condemn the militants.

He announced the opening of APML offices in Quetta
and Dera Bugti and the nomination of office-bearers.

The party has also set up chapters in the US and
Canada, where Musharraf claimed he had received a good
response from the Pakistani diaspora.

Musharraf said he intended to travel by train
throughout Britain and meet supporters to consolidate his
party.

He reiterated his resolve to return to Pakistan
before the next general election.

The former military ruler, who stepped down in 2008,
has been living in self-exile in Britain for the past two
years.

PTI