Briton on death row shot in Pakistan prison

A 70-year-old British national, sentenced to death in Pakistan under controversial blasphemy law, was today shot and critically wounded by a police commando inside a prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Islamabad: A 70-year-old British national, sentenced to death in Pakistan under controversial blasphemy law, was today shot and critically wounded by a police commando inside a prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Muhammad Asghar was attacked inside the Adiala Jail, where he was being held.

Asghar was arrested in 2012 for allegedly claiming that he was a prophet and convicted in January this year.

A Rawalpindi police official told BBC Urdu service that the gunman who shot Asghar is Mohammad Yousuf, a member of the Elite Force of police commandos.

He said Yousuf walked into Asghar's cell before shooting him.

Prison security, who ran to the scene when they heard the gunshots, were said to have overpowered and disarmed Yousuf.

Asghar was shifted to a hospital where he was in critical condition.

He was sentenced to death after a court rejected defence claims that he was suffering from mental health problems, despite reports that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in Britain.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. Blasphemy laws were introduced by former dictator Ziaul Haq in 1980s. They are sometimes misused by the people against opponents including both Muslim and non-Muslims.

So far authorities have failed to stop the misuse due to pressure by extremists.

Those accused of blasphemy are often lynched and lawyers in defending those accused of blasphemy cases have frequently been attacked.