London, July 26 : Najam Sethi, chief editor of the Daily Times, one of Pakistan's most respected English language newspapers, has received death threats from militant groups for publishing a cartoon of a radical woman Islamic leader encouraging her pupils to wage holy war.
Sethi moves under heavy security after ultra-conservative Islamic elements warned him of serious consequences if he did not repent. Six army commandos now guard his house in Lahore, The Times reported.
The threats were provoked by the publication of a cartoon in Aaj Kal, the sister daily of the Daily Times, depicting Umme Hassan, principal of a radical women's madrassa, in a veil "educating" female students to wage jihad and embrace martyrdom.
Hassan is the wife of Abdul Aziz, the prayer leader of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, who was jailed after the mosque was stormed by Pakistani troops last year. The madrassa she headed was demolished in the operation in which more than 100 people, including 11 soldiers, were killed.
Addressing a rally on the anniversary of the Lal Masjid raid in Islamabad last week, Hassan declared that the cartoon was blasphemous, equating it with Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
After the rally, anonymous callers threatened staff in the paper's Islamabad offices. Security officials said that the threat was serious as soldiers involved in the raid on the Lal Masjid had been the target of suicide attacks.
"The spate of threats by the Red Mosque leaders was particularly worrying given their well-documented record of similar actions in the past," a senior official said.
A letter posted by the Islamic Taliban Movement warned Sethi to repent of his sins and change his editorial policy, or else he would be killed.
A picture of a murdered Pakistani, who allegedly worked for the Americans, was attached.