Statement on assassination of Salmaan Taseer

Copy of a pamphlet including contact details of those threatening Sherry Rehman and anyone else who supports amendments to the 'blasphemy laws', distributed today in Karachi after Friday prayers

Citizens for Democracy, Pakistan:

Position and Press Statement on assassination of Salmaan Taseer

Karachi: Citizens for Democracy (CFD), a nation-wide umbrella group of political parties, trade unions, professional organisations, NGOs and individuals, strongly condemns the cold-blooded and cowardly murder of Salmaan Taseer.

The unarmed Governor of Punjab was shot in the back in the most cowardly manner by one of his own bodyguards on Jan 4, 2011, following a concerted propaganda campaign that falsely accused him of having been disrespectful to the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon on Him). This campaign was conducted in the media and through the mosques.

We strongly condemn those who are glorifying the assassin, who opened fire at the back of an unarmed man. We express our concern at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association’s support to the murderer and the offer to contest his case free of any fee, which signifies support for the murderer.

There is no proof of ‘blasphemy’ against Taseer. Even in the case of Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced by a sessions court for alleged blasphemy, the sentence has yet to be confirmed by the High Court and then by the Supreme Court before she can be considered guilty and executed.

The questions arising from this assassination indicate the involvement of retrogressive forces in Pakistan that have over the past couple of decades made inroads into all sections of society and institutions of the state, including those institutions upon which Pakistani citizens rely for their security.

The assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, was assigned to the elite force guarding the Punjab Governor even though he (Qadri) was earlier removed from the Special Branch because he was perceived as a security threat.

How did he end up on the security detail of a Governor who was already receiving death threats?

Why did the other guards not open fire, as per standard operating procedures in VIP guard duty? (In Qadri’s confession after his arrest, he said that he had told his colleagues what he was going to do and asked them not to open fire, as he would surrender.)

While appreciating the arrest of the cleric who had offered a reward for Taseer’s murder, and of the other guards who were on duty and did nothing to protect the Governor, we demand:

  1. Detailed inquiry and names of those responsible for this negligence should be made public and they be tried in a court of law.
  2. Action and a legal process against all the guards on duty, who have been apprehended and placed in police custody, for they are accomplices.
  3. Legal proceedings against the cleric Yousuf Qureshi of the Mohabat Khan Masjid, Peshawar, who at a public gathering on Dec 3, 2010 offered a Rs 500,000 reward to kill Aasia Bibi if her death sentence was not confirmed by the High Court.
  4. Legal action against the Khatm-e-Naboohat for distributing threatening pamphlets (attached) against PPP MNA Sherry Rehman.
  5. Legal action against those who continue to indulge in hate speech and threaten those who support amendment of the ‘Blasphemy Law’.

We reiterate our stand that no one has the right to take the law into their own hands and kill anyone, regardless of whether they are accused of blasphemy or any other crime.

CFD was formed at a meeting convened by Professional Organisations Mazdoor Federations & Hari Joint Committee (POJAC) on Dec 19, 2010 in Karachi. POJAC member organizations include:

1. Sindh High Court Bar Association
2. Pakistan Medical Association
3. All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation
4. Mutahida Labour Federation
5. Karachi Union of Journalists
6. Pakistan Workers Federation
7. All Pakistan Trade Union Federation
8. All Pakistan Clerk Association
9. Democratic Labour Union State Bank of Pakistan
10. UBL Workmen Union (CBA)
11. National Bank Trade Union Federation
12. Karachi Bar Association
13. Pakistan Nursing Federation
14. National Trade Union Federation
15. Sindh Hari Committee
16. Govt. Sec. Teachers Association
17. Pakistan Hotel And Restaurant Workers Federation
18. Mehran Mazdoor Federation
19. All Sindh Primary Teachers Association
20. Sindh Professor Lecturer Association
21. Malir Bar Association, Karachi
22. Pakistan Trade Union Federation
23. Railway Workers Union Open Line (cba) Workshop
24. Mehran Railway Employees Welfare Association
25. All Pakistan Trade Unions Organisations

In addition to POJAC, CFD members and those endorsing the above statement include:

26. Awami Party
27. Labour Party Pakistan (LPP)
28. Progressive Youth Front (PYF)
29. Communist Party Pakistan (CPP)
30. Peace and Solidarity Council
31. Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education & Research (Piler)
32. Action Committee for Human Rights
33. Dalit Front
34. Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP)
35. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
36. Caritas
37. Aurat Foundation
38. Women’s Action Forum (WAF)
39. People’s Resistance
40. Sindh Awami Sangat
41. National Organisation of Working Committees
42. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
43. Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organisation
44. Progressive Writers Association (PWA)
45. Port Workers Federation
46. Shirkat Gah
47. Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC)
48. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)
49. Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust (SNPET)
50. Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN)
51. Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF)
52. SAP-Pakistan
53. AwazCDS-Pakistan
54. GCAP-Pakistan
55. Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF)
56. Labour Education Foundation (LEF)
57. Progressive Youth Forum
58. National Students’ Federation (NSF)
59. The Researchers

Contact: Citizens for Democracy – cfd.pak@gmail.com
Blog: http://www.citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com

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