Pakistan steps up security ahead of executed officer’s funeral
Pakistan steps up security measures as tens of thousands converge on a city near Islamabad for the funeral of a police officer executed on Monday.
Authorities closed all schools and stepped up security in Islamabad and the adjacent city of Rawalpindi where the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri was expected later Tuesday.
Qadri was recently hanged for assassinating a secular governor in 2011 over accusations of blasphemy.
Up to 3,000 security guards were deployed at main junctions and sensitive buildings in the capital and Rawalpindi as precaution against possibility of violence during Qadri’s funeral.
Qadri was on guard duty when he shot Salman Taseer, the then governor of Punjab Province, 28 times at an Islamabad market in 2011. He was executed in Rawalpindi on Monday after all his petitions and mercy appeals were rejected.
The Monday execution prompted mass protests across Pakistan. His supporters held demonstrations in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, where they burned tires, chanted slogans and blocked roads.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a Taliban school attack in December 2014 and has executed over 300 convicts since then.
Taseer, who was a high-profile member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), had called for reforms to blasphemy laws.
Critics say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are largely misused, with hundreds of people languishing in jails under false charges.
They say people often take the law into their own hands, with lynchings on the streets and killings of those accused of blasphemy.
Some politicians say the law is often exploited by extremists or those who want to settle personal scores.