(From AFP)

Pakistan Monday hanged the man who killed a provincial governor for seeking reform of the blasphemy law, angering Islamist supporters who had feted Mumtaz Qadri as a hero and threatened violence if he was executed.

Mumtaz Hussain Qadri

Security was stepped up at flashpoints across the country including the garrison city of Rawalpindi where hundreds of supporters gathered at Qadri’s family home, as officials braced for protests from hardliners.

Qadri, a police bodyguard to Salman Taseer, shot the liberal Punjab governor 28 times at an Islamabad market in 2011.

He said he was angry at the politician’s calls to reform the blasphemy law.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the Islamic republic of some 200 million, and Qadri was hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out calls to soften the legislation.

Critics say the law — which carries the death penalty — is largely misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges.

Analyst Hasan Askari said the next 24 hours would be “sensitive” for the government, adding that Islamabad had weighed the danger of mass violence against the need to “wash away the suspicion” of sympathy for militancy. Read More

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