Mumtaz Qadri: From Ghazi to Shaheed

Published: March 1, 2016

The poster boy for the arbitrary use of blasphemy laws has been hanged. PHOTO: AFP

The poster boy for the arbitrary use of blasphemy laws has been hanged. His supporters have carried out various protests all across Pakistan. Members of the Islamabad Bar Association called his hanging a judicial murder and observed a “black day”. Tens of thousands gathered for his funeral. Many of them turned violent and attacked journalists and reporters even breaking their equipment. Some self-professed clerics cornered up and verbally abused Information Minister Pervez Rashid at Karachi airport. The government responded by not allowing any in depth coverage of these incidents and asked anchors to keep a lid on it.

But does keeping the lid on things help Pakistan change? Our biggest fear was not if Mumtaz Qadri would be hanged or not but if we will be able stop another Mumtaz Qadri from becoming ‘Ghazi’. So have we created the required deterrence with this hanging? Who was till yesterday celebrated as a Ghazi is now being observed as a ‘Shaheed’. So where do we go from here and how do we respond to the fear which remains?

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri joined the Punjab Police Service in 2002 before becoming and elite commando in 2007. This resident of Pindi was the son of a vegetable seller. Little is known about his educational background. He was 26-years of age and had been married for only 16 months and perhaps looking to build a family life before he shot Salman Taseer in cold blood and smiled with content while he was arrested.

Overnight, an unknown man who stood guard behind VIPs jumping on and off motorcades to provide protocol became a household name. He was glorified with much more thump than he was vilified. His actions were validated more openly than they were condemned. Politicians revered him, lawyers wanted to represent him and police wanted to serve him as Mumtaz Qadri wore the crown of ‘Ghazi’.

We ignored rallies, speeches, sermons and campaigns in his honour and favour for five years. We allowed his influence to grow day after day. And we think we will able to handle the situation by asking media to now put a lid on it.

If the lid had to be put then it had to be put on the sermons of Hanif Qureshi who according to Mumtaz Qadri’s confession inspired him. His one hour 41 minute video is available on Youtube in which he encourages the gathering to riddle Salman Taseer’s body with bullets. In which he pushes the gathering to commit the crime by repeatedly saying the law doesn’t apply to us. In which he says that though they are not like Taliban who attack army and police personnel but they are no less violent when they feel offended.

Hanif Qureshi was granted bail back in 2011 and little has is known about the case which was registered against him in relation to Salman Taseer’s murder. What I do know is that I have seen him sit as a religious expert on almost every single big media channel where he has been acknowledged as a religious authority and he has been allowed to increase his influence over the past five years.

How do we expect to deter another commoner from becoming ‘Ghazi’ if we are not going to stop their brainwashing, their training and manipulation at the ends of imposters like Hanif Qureshi who cowardly never volunteered to be tried along with Mumtaz Qadri, who was happy to make Mumtaz Qadri the poster boy and sole target of opposition so he could escape blame as he seems to have successfully done so.

The effects of Hanif Qureshi’s teachings and growing influence are glaring us in the face. It takes a special kind of impudence and utter disregard for law to physically assault a sitting minister at one of the most secured premises like Karachi Airport within the presence of armed police guards, Airport Security Force and military officers.

So the next big question which Pakistan faces including the government, the army, the media, the judiciary and the people is, are we going to keep ignoring the masterminds who lead the narrative of intolerance? Will we simply keep finding content and evidencing rule of law by hanging foot soldiers?

Foot soldiers that perhaps in another life would have like to live as law abiding citizens, raise kids, build a home and play their part in the development of the country.

If we are to change the narrative, if we are to lead the fight back and if we are to spread the ideology of peace, tolerance and rule of law then we also need to show unity between our ranks.

I must admit that the special impudence of the radicals was met by a special kind of courage, resolve and grace by Pervez Rashid who remained calm and kept walking forward. But why does he appear to be bearing the brunt alone?

At this time my concern is not only that will Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) stand with Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) or not, but also that will the likes of Pervez Rashid find support within his own party or not.

The PML-N leadership has stuck its neck out by annoying within the same week self-professed clergymen from both Deoband and Barelvi schools of thought with first passing the Women’s Protection Bill in Punjab and then carrying out Qadri’s death sentence. The party now faces a divide within its own ranks.

On one end, it has members like Pervez Rashid risking their lives at the hands of another Qadri wannabe. On the other hand, it had members like MNA Capt Safdar who is not only the son-in-law of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, but also heads the Youth Wing of PML-N. It was only a few months ago that a video of him fiercely defending acts of Mumtaz Qadri in a mosque surfaced on social media. PML-N also has members like Pir Aminullah Hasanat Shah who in his capacity as the Minister of State for religious affairs has confirmed that ‘Ghazi’ is now a ‘Shaheed’.

This struggle is not and cannot be only the concern of one Taseer Family and its friends or one political party like PML-N. Progressive mind who believe in a tolerant and peaceful Pakistan will need to rise above vested interests. We need to think above any party lines, any media house dictates, any university code of conduct, any company’s corporate policy and any social norm which demands us to remain silent and ignore.

We must create awareness about the misuse of blasphemy laws and we must address the misrepresentations made by Islamic traditions on the issue of blasphemy. We need to support members from within the clergy for speak and support reform. Change does not only need will, it also needs a consistent push forward and the push has to come from all quarters. The Supreme Court has already hinted that it is willing to hear a petition for reforms by saying, criticising blasphemy law is not blasphemy. But the reform remains the primary domain of the National Assembly. We need to decide now on which course we want to put Pakistan on for future generations.

If we do not speak and act to stop the common man from becoming a criminal, we will continue to see ‘Ghazis’ turn into ‘Shaheeds’.


Jibran Nasir

A lawyer and civil and political rights activist. He is the co-founder of Elaj Trust, Pakistan For All and Never Forget Pakistan. He tweets @MJibranNasir (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Malik Qayyum

    Totally agreedRecommend

  • Yasser Irfan

    We as people of Pakistan announce anyone “shaheed”; we have lost the actual meaning behind someone being shaheed. We as Muslim state need to review and understand the difference between protecting and killing. I would never call anyone killing in the name of religion shaeed. People who do this are coward, brain washed, and lifeless souls.

  • SamSal

    Blasphemy only applies on the people and scriptures holy to muslims?
    Or we can expect the same outrage if someone ridicules christianity or hindu gods or when someone harms ahmadi mosques, or when there’s an attack on aga khani jamat khana, etc.?Recommend

  • naveed

    indeed very bad for Qadri to murder Taseer but what the state killing 15 in Model Town,MQM killing 260 in Baldia Town.your heart seems to hurt a lot for Taseer but not much for Model Town,Baldia factory,May12th 2007 victims,why the hypocracyRecommend

  • naveed

    indeed very bad for Qadri to murder Taseer but what the state killing 15 in Model Town,MQM killing 260 in Baldia Town.your heart seems to hurt a lot for Taseer but not much for Model Town,Baldia factory,May12th 2007 victims,why the hypocracyRecommend

  • naveed

    same logic APS murderers zindabad,Baldia factory murderers zindabad,CIA drone pilots killing innocent people zindabadRecommend

  • naveed

    yes indeed but selective application of justice not right,why no justice for Model Town victims or Baldia factory victims?Recommend

  • Rohan

    You are the true face of Pakistan.Well doneRecommend

  • Jawwad

    Also Shahrukh Jatoi and Mustafa KanjuRecommend

  • ZeroLoss

    Fascinating to see a once proud and ancient civilization descent into this state. i suspect the bottom is a long way down.
    Next big expectation :rogue nuclear bombingRecommend

  • Zh yusuf

    Respect for a murderer? Who’s version of Islam is that ?Recommend

  • SamSal

    I feel bad for the families of the real shaheeds!
    Calling mumtaz qadri a shaheed is an insult to the mother whose son lost his life fighting for the country, it is an insult to the jawan who spent countless nights guarding the borders. It is an insult to Imam Hussain.Recommend

  • Anwaar

    your hero was asking for mercy from President …. Why ?Recommend

  • Saira

    Mumtaz Qadri is the hero of all idiot Mullahs.Recommend

  • MUsa

    UNEDUCATED MULLAH’s use foot soldiers like this man to keep their cash registers ringing and stay relevant! similar to how the pope in the middle ages used crusade to keep themselves relevant. qadri was a killer he has made his creator let him decide his fate. and if like his supporters claim he is a SHAHEED!! then stop protesting and be happy he got the highest status no??Recommend

  • musa

    good for you. then glorify the TTP too they also claim to be correct and call everyone in pakistan blasphemous!Recommend

  • faraz

    well said Recommend

  • salman

    Bro, please read a bit about Prophet Muhammed’s (saw) life. He was abused verbally and physically by the Quarish, and chased out of Taif by dogs and kids throwing stones. What revenge did he take when the Muslims conquered Makkah? Please do some research and find out for yourselves..
    I’m not going to take credit for this quote, but read somewhere today…”We are willing to die for the prophet, but not live like him”…Recommend

  • mazhar qadri

    History will write Mumtaz Qadri’s name in the Golden words with Ghazi Ilm Deen Shaeed. We Love you Mumtaz Hussain Qadri. Those who are opposing must read the book AlShifa by Qadi Ayad.(Mazhar qadri Abu Dhabi)Recommend

  • kashan baloch

    wah Great!! Hum Ashiqe rasool hain AlhamdulillahRecommend

  • Atif

    This man Mufti Hanif Qureshi should be sent to mental asylum Recommend

  • Rajiv

    And Pakistanis are too busy writing stories on India
    calling India rape capital of world…what about your own country(?)Recommend

  • Arsha

    People supporting and idolizing a cold blooded murderer….. Shameful.
    Just shows how little respect people have for their country’s Constitution and laws.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The alternative is to make arabic language compulsary in schools and those who are appointed as Imams in a mosque shuld be graduates in theology from the universities. The latter is now being followed in Germany.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • mRex Minor

    Your accusations have no substance. The whole Taseer Qadri affair was stage managed by the establishment, ending in a mass movement in Pakistan against so called liberals and elites in the society. Who would have thought that a security guard who was fully trained to kill will upon hearing the blesphamic comments from the Governor, will act and act against the one whom he was to protect?.

    Rex MinortheRecommend

  • siesmann

    wow!another conspiracy theory.Qadri confessed it,and gloated over it;and then he started inciting and ordering other people to murder from his jail cell..And all the Mullahs and their followers probably was staged for you.Recommend

  • Saira

    Tell me did Prophet Muhammad kill Abu Sufyan or Abu Jahl as both of them were worst enemies of Islam.He forgave both of them. Not only did he forgive them, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared Abu Sufyan’s house as dar ul aman so that anyone could take shelter in that house to escape torture and death during war time. Prophet Muhammad forgave the old woman who used to throw rubbish on him. In his life time people tortured, beaten and abused him but he never harmed anyone in return.

    Real blasphemers are those who are denying the teachings of the Quran and Holy Prophet and who are supporting killings of children and unarmed people. I don’t think that this person ( a killer) deserved to be called a martyr. Nowhere in the Quran it’s written to kill a person who has done blasphemy.Then who was he to kill someone in the name of Islam?
    Nowhere in Quran it’s written that the punishment of blasphemy is death. This is a man made law. Please read Quran clearly.Recommend

  • Humza

    Has speaking and understanding the Arabic language helped native Arab speakers behave any differently? The nations where people are native Arabic speakers and can read all religious texts with no issue are the worse at respecting base human dignity and are prime examples of anarchy. There is a deeper malaise that can only be fixed when people respect other human beings with basic human values. Has learning and speaking Arabic or developing graduates in theology helped lower the incidence of crime committed by Muslim refugees seekers in Germany or Europe? We all saw images of Arab refugee men raping women in cities across Europe over new years.Recommend

  • sana

    oh shush it! It is not about india-pakistan here. you are such a troll lolRecommend

  • Sarmed Malik

    I am sorry but Mr Qadri broke the law and got what he deserved .if u calling a cold hearted murderer a saint is an insult to everything Islam is laid upon.

    An eye for an eyeRecommend

  • Sana Aziz

    proper education of our ppl is required .SHAHADAD is much highr nd purest rank nd in my opinion i dnt think so must b used hre.Recommend

  • Mohammad Saad

    What was law doing when Taseer tries to put it right under his foot??
    Doing Press conference with a convicted culprit??
    what was that??
    someone has to stop him!!
    And by the way.. Was he a scholar of Islam that he could tell us what Islam really is?Recommend

  • Joksta Studios

    He actually did and it was rejected.Recommend

  • Ahmed Raza

    I think you don’t know about mumtaz qadri.Recommend

  • Ahmed Raza

    He didn’t appeal for mercy to president of Pakistan.

    He said himself