A thousand Pakistani clerics have asked President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon Mumtaz Qadri, the policeman sentenced to death for assassinating Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011.
The clerics belonging to different schools of Islamic thought signed a letter seeking a pardon for Qadri, and it was submitted to the President by Sunni Ittehad Council chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza.
In October 2011, an anti-terrorism court awarded the death penalty to Qadri, an Elite Force commando, for gunning down Taseer in Islamabad earlier the same year.
The policeman, who was part of Taseer’s security detail, confessed to the murder and said he was angered by Taseer’s calls for changes in Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.
“Qadri had no personal enmity with Taseer. Taseer had committed blasphemy by calling the blasphemy law black and supporting a Christian woman – Aasia – who had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed,” the letter states. It claims Qadri had shown his love for the Prophet “by sending a blasphemer to Hell“.