The authorities in Pakistan were bracing for the possibility of violence and escalating protests on Monday after the execution of the man who killed Salmaan Taseer, a governor who had campaigned for changes in the country’s blasphemy laws, The New York Times reports:
Mr. Taseer’s assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, was hanged at 4:30 a.m. on Monday at the Adiala Jail, a high-security prison in Rawalpindi, adjacent to Islamabad, the capital. Security forces were put on alert in major cities across the country.
Mr. Taseer was a crusading secular politician and governor of Punjab Province at the time of his assassination, campaigning for changes in the blasphemy laws, which he, like other critics, said had been used to persecute religious minorities. For a large section of Pakistani society, the mere suggestion of changing the laws amounts to a capital crime.
Raza Rumi*[above], a member of the visiting faculty at Ithaca College in New York and a consulting editor of The Friday Times, a Pakistani weekly, said, “The execution of Mumtaz Qadri indicates the resolve of the Pakistani state to reverse the tide of extremism that has gripped the country for decades,” he told The Times:
Speaking of the execution of Mr. Qadri, he added: “In a narrow sense, justice may have been delivered under the existing laws. But Pakistan’s Parliament would have to think beyond the death penalty and institute measures which inhibit the creation of people like Qadri. It is time to revisit blasphemy laws.”