Maulana Nawaz Kharal, a spokesperson for the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), led the chorus while addressing the conference held at Aiwan-i-Iqbal. Kharal also said there should be no protest against Qadri and added, “Don’t associate Mumtaz with any terrorist group. He is a true lover of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).” He said his Sunni followers protect Qadri and his family with their lives.
SIC chairman Fazle Karim too condemned protests in favour of Salmaan Taseer. Karim said the NGOs protesting the governors’ death had never held any protest against the killings at Sunni gatherings after the attacks at Jamia Naeemia, Nishtar Park in Karachi, Data Darbar, shrines of Abdullah Shah Ghazi and Farid Ganj Shakar. He said they had not even raised a voice against the ban on the veil imposed in France. He said his followers would continue “the mission of Ghazi Ilamudin Shaheed.” He said the Sunni Tehrik would provide legal assistance to Qadri.
Dr Muhammad Ashraf Asif Jalali, founder of Idara Sirat-i-Mustaqeem Pakistan, announced the Ghazi Ilmudin Award for Qadri. He said that his group would lay a wreath on Ilmudin’s grave on Qadri’s behalf on January 15. He also said that it would hold a rally on January 19 from Lahore to Qadri’s residence in Rawalpindi.
Jalali then demanded that the government release Qadri as soon as possible and exonerate him from the charge of murder. He said the punishment for a blasphemer against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was death. He claimed that the inclusion of Section 295-C in the Pakistan Penal Code had brought good luck for the country. He went on to say that all participants in Taseer’s funeral had jeopardised their Islamic faith. He said their participation in the prayers had put a question mark on their commitment to the community of the faithful.
The participants of the conference included Justice (retd) Nazeer Akhtar, former judge Nazeer Ghazi, Pir Sayed Karamat Ali and Dr Raghib Naeemi. After the conference ended, a group of SIC activists headed to the Governor’s House gate on The Mall on a van and chanted slogans in support of Qadri.Earlier, nearly 300 Sunni Tehrik activists had held a protest rally in front of the Lahore Press Club demanding Qadri’s immediate release. Participants of the rally also chanted slogans against the protestors in favour of Taseer.
In the only civil society rally after Taseer’s assassination on January 4, the participants had condemned the murder which they said was a result of religious extremism.