Pak panel asks govt to properly pursue Taseer murder case

Islamabad: A Pakistani parliamentary panel has demanded that the government appoint a competent prosecutor to properly pursue the case related to the killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer by one of his police guards who was angered by his opposition to the controversial blasphemy law.

The demand was made by the committee on minorities of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament, which also asked the government to ensure that the assassin is punished according to the law.

Committee Chairman Mahesh Kumar Malani said the whole panel condemned the killing of Taseer.

The panel strongly condemned the people who had celebrated Taseer's murder and expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that despite the existence of law, no one was properly following it in the country.

Taseer was gunned down in Islamabad last month by his police guard Mumtaz Qadri, who said he was angered by the politician's opposition to the blasphemy law and support for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death last year for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

Qadri has been hailed as a hero by religious hardliners and some groups of lawyers.

No prosecutor appeared on behalf of the government during Qadri's initial appearances in court, apparently due to security concerns.

The committee on minorities observed a minute's silence for Taseer during a meeting yesterday and lauded his services to protect the rights of minority communities.

Addressing the meeting, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti said Taseer's vision was to promote harmony and provide rights to every citizen of Pakistan.

Bhatti, a Christian, condemned the killing of the outspoken Governor and said Taseer raised his voice for the marginalised section of society.

He said Taseer had the courage to raise his voice against those forces who wanted to oppress minorities.

The committee also unanimously passed a resolution asking the government to increase the number of seats for minorities in the National Assembly in accordance with the census conducted in 1998.