Lahore: Several Sunni organisations have held ceremonies in cities across Pakistan to honour Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the policeman who assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer two years ago.
The Sunni groups observed yesterday as "Mumtaz Qadri Day" and lauded the policeman for his "valiant act" of killing Taseer in January 2011 for allegedly committing blasphemy.
Under the banner of the Sunni Tehrik and Idara-e-Saratum Mustaqeem, a large number of people, mostly clerics and madrassa students, joined rallies in Lahore, Gujrat, Pakpattan, Faisalabad, Gujrawala, Karachi, Quetta, Larkana and Muzaffarabad and expressed solidarity with Qadri, who has been sentenced to death for the assassination.
The Sunni groups demanded that the PML-N government should release Qadri without any delay as he could not be imprisoned under Islamic laws. They said every Pakistani Muslim was proud of Qadri`s act as they could not tolerate a "blasphemer".
Qadri, an Elite Force commando, was part of Taseer`s security detail when he gunned Taseer down in Islamabad. Qadri said he was angered by the Governor`s call for changes in the controversial blasphemy law.
Speaking at a rally outside Lahore Press Club, Maulana Saddique Safi said: "Today the whole nation is paying rich tributes to Qadri for showing his love for Prophet Muhammad by killing a blasphemer." He said under Islamic laws, Qadri could not be given any punishment.
Mulana Mujahid Rasool demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain should ensure Qadri`s "honourble" acquittal at the earliest.
Earlier, a thousand clerics from different schools of Islamic thought signed a letter seeking a pardon for Qadri that was sent to then President Asif Ali Zardari.
In October 2011, an anti-terrorism court gave the death sentence to Qadri.