Pakistan braces for unrest after assassin’s execution

Pakistani authorities on Feb. 29 prepared for civil unrest after the execution of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri in a high-security prison in Rawalpindi. Qadri was the convicted killer of a former governor of the Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, who campaigned for changes to the country's blasphemy laws, asserting they were used to persecute religious minorities. Qadri, who served as Taseer's bodyguard at the time of the murder, later claimed it was his religious duty to kill the former governor. Authorities feared protests and potential violence after the execution because Qadri had gained the status of a political hero for some Islamist groups, who believe that the mere suggestion of political reform should amount to a capital crime. After Qadri's execution, security forces were put on high alert and there were riot police present around Qadri's residence.

From Jurist, Feb. 29. Used with permission.

Note: Pakistan Today reports that Islamabad is a "no-entry zone" and "under complete lock down," but that there have been scattered protests anyway. Protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and in favor of ex-dictator Pervez Musharaff and the army. Alarmingly, the Islamabad Bar Council observed complete strike and boycotted courts to show solidarity with Mumtaz Qadri.