KARACHI–A day after religious parties representing the Barelvi school of thought announced an offer of blood money to the family of Salman Taseer for the acquittal of Mumtaz Qadri, the eldest son of the slain Punjab governor, Shaan Taseer, categorically ruled out accepting the proposal.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and the Pakistan Sunni Alliance had, in a press conference, at the Karachi Press Club, decided to offer blood money to Taseer’s family for Qadri’s acquittal — the self-confessed killer of the former Punjab governor.
“On behalf of my family, I would like to state in no unclear terms that any such offer will be taken as an affront to the memory of my father, who laid his life down for a principle. There shall be no discussion on the topic of blood money with me or any member of my family. Therefore the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and the Pakistan Sunni Alliance are strongly requested not to entertain the thought of making such an offer,” said a statement issued by Taseer’s son on Tuesday.
He said the parties had mentioned the case of Raymond Davis, as a recent precedent but rejected his family’s concern with the case.
“Further, the parties have mentioned that they are ‘ready for a healthy debate on the Mumtaz Qadri issue’. I welcome this offer wholeheartedly on the understanding that such a dialogue will include a debate on the Blasphemy Law, and not on blood money. If the parties are serious about a ‘healthy debate’ they must first openly condemn the use or the threat of violence against any person or party that disagrees with their viewpoint.”
He said he invited the religious parties to mention the place and time for debate on the issue, adding that he would be happy to discuss these issues that have divided the country so bitterly, along with other thinkers, opinion makers and lawmakers that have shied from expressing their views so far based on the threat of violence.
“Let this be the start of a new era of cooperation and dialogue between all differing shades of opinion, and let us all unite to face the graver threats of extremism that face our country today. If this is the eventual outcome for which my father paid for with his life I am certain he will smile down on us all,” he said.
Taseer’s son said he fully acknowledged the right of the parties to challenge the High Court’s verdict in the Supreme Court and encouraged them to do so.
“Further I would like to commend the parties for their decision to hold “peaceful protests under democratic norms”, which is their right under Law and the Constitution.”
“I strongly believe that if we all keep dialogue and debate alive, and continue to operate under the Constitution of Pakistan, we can all live peacefully together in a prosperous and democratic Pakistan. Pakistan Zindabad.”
Earlier on Monday, the Islamabad High Court had acquitted Qadri of charges of terrorism, but upheld his conviction under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Mumtaz Qadri, a former commando of Punjab police’s Elite Force, had assassinated Salman Taseer in Islamabad’s Kohsar market on Jan 4, 2011. Qadri said he killed Taseer over the politician’s vocal opposition to the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.
Qadri is viewed as a hero by many people who thought Taseer himself was a blasphemer by calling for the law’s reform.
Some lawyers threw rose petals at Qadri when he arrived in court days after the killing. The judge who convicted Qadri was forced to flee the country after death threats.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.
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