January 18, 2010
In yet another rally TNRM leaders said they will respect no law if blasphemy laws are touched. PHOTOS: EXPRESS/ABID NAWAZ
Most shops and offices on The Mall were closed during the four hours the rally took to make its way from Data Darbar to the Governor’s House.
TNRM, a coalition of eight Sunni parties, organised the rally to pay tributes to the police guard who shot Taseer dead on January 4.
Speakers said there could be no punishment for Qadri and demanded his early release. TNRM vice president Dr Ashraf Jalali, who led the rally, told the participants that if Qadri was punished they would hold a long march to Islamabad and snatch all those responsible for it out of their offices. Jalali also issued a warning to the media not to extend invitations to those who criticised Qadri or spoke in favour of amending the blasphemy laws. “Mumtaz Hussain Qadri is a hero of the Muslim ummah. Whoever criticises him or Section 295-C will have their tongues pulled out.”
Jalali praised the police deployed in front of the Governor’s House saying that Qadri’s act had lifted the status of the entire police force.
The rally goers and their leaders chanted slogans against Taseer. The participants burnt pictures of President Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistan Peoples Party leaders.
The 3,000 or so participants brought traffic and businesses on the The Mall to a stop. Roads leading to The Mall were choked with traffic and it seemed as if city life had come to a standstill for the hours the rally was in progress. Shops and offices on The Mall were closed for fear of a flare up but no untoward incident was reported.
Punjab Assembly members got their share of the firebrands’ wrath as they passed the Assembly building. “We curse every member of the Punjab Assembly for carrying a resolution in favour of Salmaan Taseer,” said a rally leader.
Some lawyers were also spotted in the rally. Advocate Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmed ‘congratulated’ the participants on Taseer’s death and said if Section 295-C was removed they would obey no laws. But, he also said no law was actually needed to deal with blasphemers as a few “true Muslims” were all it required to deal with them. He said no lawyer would appear before the court to prosecute Taseer’s murder.
Maulana Tasadduq Hussain, a Jaamiat Ulema Pakistan leader, said the media only invited a certain kind of religious scholar to debate blasphemy issues. He said those favouring Taseer or criticising Qadri were enemies of Islam.
TNRM secretary general Muhammad Ali Naqashbandi said the media should invite TNRM scholars for debate on blasphemy issues. He condemned the media for inviting ‘improper’ scholars to their talk shows.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2011.