03/01/2016, 13.35
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Activists: We are against the death penalty, but Qadri’s execution saw justice done

by Shafique Khokhar

The execution of former Governor Salman Taseer ‘s assassin has sparked much debate among Islamists and those who condemn the executions, but consider that in some cases they are justified. The hanging of Qadri is "to accept as being part of the process and to save innocent lives in the future." It shows that the institutions are "ready to seriously challenge the extremist mindset."

Rawalpindi (AsiaNews) - No joy or satisfaction with the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who in 2011 assassinated the former Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer for his stance against the blasphemy law. In general, the death penalty is to be condemned but in this case justice has been done and the rule of law has been respected.

This is the opinion of some well-known activists and educationists in Pakistan, commenting to AsiaNews the sentence carried out yesterday against the Islamic radical. His execution is raising much debate among the supporters of fundamentalist Islam and those who believe that justice should prevail, in extreme cases even by means of a death sentence.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, an educator, says: "The dilemma relates to the death penalty. I believe that in some exceptional circumstances exception to the rule is justified. Given the kind of society that Pakistan is, it can act as a deterrent. Qadri was a bodyguard and betrayed his responsibilities in the protection of the governor. In general, the practice of the death penalty should be abandoned, but in this case it is to be accepted as functional to save innocent lives in the future. "

Supporters of Qadri, who is extolled as a "national hero", are taking to the streets across the country. Millions of people are expected at his funeral, scheduled for today, and there are fears the outbreak of violence.

According to Samson Salamat, activist and president of Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for tolerance), the decision of President Mamnoon Hussain not to grant clemency, "is a rare example of how justice can prevail in high-profile cases , mainly because Taseer was killed in the name of religion. It seems that state institutions are ready to seriously challenge the extremist mindset that has prevailed for the past 30 years, despite the fears of negative reactions. " "You need to stop – he adds - outlawed militant groups who are spreading hatred, we must put a stop to all kinds of hate speech."

Other activists believe that the execution leaves a latent sense of dissatisfaction. This is the case of Peter Jacob, director of the Centre for Social Justice, who states: "While the Qadri family that laments his death, the hanging closes the wound that has been bleeding for five years for Salman Taseer ‘s family. " The activist recalled Shahzab Taseer, one of the governor’s children abducted by the Taliban, who is still missing and Asia Bibi, "whose death sentence in 2010 under the law on blasphemy sparked this tragedy. The woman is still languishing in prison. It is difficult to say in these cases that justice has been completely done. We oppose the death penalty, but we also support the rule of law. It is not the time nor to rejoice or be happy, but the killing of Qadri could discourage the abuse of the blasphemy law in the short term. "

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (Hrfp): "Mumtaz Qadri went to meet his fate. A criminal must be punished by law. Pakistan won. This surely will discourage terrorism based on religious fundamentalism. The government must ensure total safety to minority places of worship, since there is a danger of the reaction of the Islamists. "

Ata-ur-Rehman Saman, member of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, said: "We are opposed to the death penalty but the government has sent a clear message: anyone who takes the law into their own hands, will not go unpunished. This decision is a turning point in our history. " What happened, concludes Humza Arshad, scholar and educator, "shows that the Islamic parties power is eroding."

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