Pak should punish Qadri, blasphemy law should stay: Musharraf

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 16 (PTI) Former Pakistani militarydictator Pervez Mushrarraf has said that the killer of Punjabgovernor Salmaan Tasser should be punished and not allowed tochallenge the writ of the state, but pledged support for thecontroversial blasphemy law.

"The assassination of Taseer was wrong and hismurderer should be punished," Musharraf was quoted by TheExpress Tribune newspaper as telling a conference of his AllPakistan Muslim League part in London yesterday.

Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who shot the Governor,should not be permitted to challenge the state''s writ,Musharraf said.

Qadri, a member of the Elite Force that guards VIPs,said he had gunned down Taseer for his criticism of Pakistan''scontroversial blasphemy law.

Taseer earned the ire of religious hardliners lastyear when he spoke in defence of a Christian woman sentencedto death for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed and soughtchanges in the blasphemy law.

Musharraf said that since Muslims are very emotionalabout the blasphemy statute, "the controversial law must stay"in Pakistan.

However, the Islamic concepts of ''ijtehad'' (making adecision through the independent interpretation of Islamiclegal sources) and ''ijma'' (consensus) should be used to seewhat can be done about the miscarriage of justice, he said.

Asked why he had not amended the blasphemy law when hewas in power, Musharraf said he had introduced some proceduralchanges that required complainants to go to the judiciaryrather than the police to file complaints.

Musharraf also spoke on other issues.

The economy, he said, was one of the biggestchallenges facing Pakistan, which is beset by hyperinflationand bankruptcy.

He alleged that his arch-rival, PML-N chief NawazSharif, had connections with the Taliban and that is why hedid not openly condemn the militants.

He announced the opening of APML offices in Quettaand Dera Bugti and the nomination of office-bearers.

The party has also set up chapters in the US andCanada, where Musharraf claimed he had received a goodresponse from the Pakistani diaspora.

Musharraf said he intended to travel by trainthroughout Britain and meet supporters to consolidate hisparty.

He reiterated his resolve to return to Pakistanbefore the next general election.

The former military ruler, who stepped down in 2008,has been living in self-exile in Britain for the past twoyears.

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