ucanews.com reporter, Islamabad
Updated: February 29, 2016 08:45 AM GMT
Pakistani supporters of former police bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri, shout slogans as they torch tires during a protest in Hyderabad against the execution of Qadri, in Hyderabad on Feb. 29. (Photo by AFP)
Pakistan has executed a former police bodyguard who gunned down Punjab governor Salman Taseer over his opposition to the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, state media reported.
Mumtaz Qadri was hanged at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi in the early hours of Feb. 29 to avoid potential protests from Islamist groups who hailed him as a hero following the high-profile murder.
Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was assassinated in January 2011 at an Islamabad market.
After his arrest, Qadri said he was duty bound to kill Taseer, a vocal critic of the blasphemy laws.
Weeks before his killing, Taseer had met Asia Bibi, a jailed Catholic woman sentenced to death for blasphemy and vowed to do everything to win her release.
Last week, President Mamnoon Hussain rejected Qadri's appeal for clemency, paving the way for his execution.
Soon after Qadri went to the gallows, security forces were put on high alert to prevent any violence by his supporters.
Small-scale protests reportedly broke out in several Pakistani cities such as Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad as news of Qadri’s hanging emerged.
The Islamabad Bar Council announced it would observe a day of mourning and boycott courts in protest against Qadri’s execution.
Church officials said the law had finally taken its course and that justice had been served.
“The murder of an innocent governor was completely unjustified. The courts must be applauded for the correct judgment,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani national director of Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.
As a principal, we do not believe in the death sentence but such a criminal would have spawned more killers in the name of religion, he said.
Father Joseph Louis, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan Lahore was hesitant on commenting about Qadri's death.
"Justice has been served. When God strikes with his staff, there is no sound," Father Louis told ucanews.com.