By Xavier P. William, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri has been sentenced to death over the killing of the Punjab governor.

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)–  A Pakistani court on Saturday, October 1, sentenced to death the self-confessed assassin of the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, who wanted to reform a law against blasphemy under which especially Christians have been prosecuted.

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a former bodyguard of murdered Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, was sentenced to hang over the January 4, 2011, killing by Pakistan’s Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi city.

The court procedures were held in Rawalpindi’s heavily guarded Adyala jail, near the capital Islamabad, where he has been held amid security concerns, BosNewsLife learned.

Qadri, one of Taseer’s elite force guards, shot and killed the governor for his views on the blasphemy law outside a restaurant at Islamabad’s Kohsar Market, said ATC Justice Syed Pervez Ali Shah.


“Slaying the late governor was a heinous crime and there is no  justification to it,” he said, adding that Qadri admitted earlier that nobody forced him to murder the former governor.

Qadri, who was also a constable in the Punjab police and a member of the Elite Force, said he killed Taseer for supporting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman of five who was sentenced to death in 2010 in central

Punjab province for alleged blasphemy against Islam. Taseer believed she had been wrongly convicted of committing blasphemy and called for the annulment of the controversial legislation.

Quadri said that after a brief verbal altercation with the governor over the issue he lost his temper and shot the governor in anger.


His lawyers claimed their client acted after being “suddenly provoked” by the governor over his religion and Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

“He was a governor, a public office holder. He should not have acted like that and expressed views against the public sentiment,” added lawyer Shujaur Rahman, who also questioned the life style of the governor.

The court disagreed and sentenced Mumtaz Qadri to “death twice” under special anti-terrorism legislation.

Qadri`s lawyer Rahman said he would appeal the sentence within a week.


There are different opinions among Christians about the death sentence, with some arguing that the Bible point out that Jesus died for all sinners at the cross before his resurrection so everyone who believes in Him shall have eternal life.

Therefore, they argue,  God, not people, should judge who will live or die. Additionally there has been concerns that in some cases innocent people may be executed.

The Vatican also opposes the death penalty.  Yet, the Catholic Bishop of Rawalpindi and Islamabad Rufin Anthony described the sentencing in Qadri`s case as a “brave decision.”

He suggested that since Taseer’s assassination, right-wing religious clerics praised his killer and reportedly stoked controversy over reform of the law. “Despite pressure from religious groups this is a very brave decision by the ATC. For the first time in Pakistan a person involved in the high profile assassination has been sentenced,” he said.


He described governor Taseer as “an advocate of the reforms in the blasphemy aw was silenced for his views.”

Taseer, he said, “took a stand for what he believed was right. Taseer didn’t offend anybody and nor did he used offensive words. He just asked for repelling a law that was put in place by a dictator and has caused a suffocating environment not just for non-Muslims but Muslims of this country…”

The bishop added Pakistan should “uproot the cause too which instigated this man to take this heinous action.”

Pakistan’s government has said however it has no plan to reform the blasphemy law.


Taseer wasn’t the only official being shot death for opposing Pakistan’s internationally criticized blasphemy legislation.

Christian government minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who had vowed to defy death threats over his opposition to Islamic blasphemy laws, was shot dead in March, 2011.

The Catholic politician was gunned down as he left his mother’s home in a residential area of Islamabad, investigators said at the time.

His killing has been linked to Islamic militants. (With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos. Follow BosNewsLife’s Newsfeed via Twitter or visit ).


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