A Khushab security guard who shot and killed a bank manager after accusing him of blasphemy has been sentenced to death.
Sargodha Anti-Terrorism Court Special Judge Khawar Rashid announced the verdict on Wednesday.
On November 5, security guard Ahmed Nawaz had shot and killed Malik Imran Hanif, who was the manager of a bank in Khushab’s Quaidabad tehsil.
The court ruled that the man killed the manager over personal enmity and sentenced him to the following:
- Death penalty under Section 302-B (punishment of qatl-i-amd) and a Rs500,000 fine that will be provided to the manager's legal heirs as compensation.
- Two-year imprisonment under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and a fine of Rs50,000.
- Death sentence under Section 7(A) of the Anti-Terrorism Act and a fine of Rs500,000.
- Ten-year imprisonment under Section 7(h) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, and a fine of Rs100,000.
The order, however, said that the death sentence shall not be executed unless confirmed by the high court.
Here's what happened
CCTV footage showed Hanif working at his desk when the attacker, Ahmed Nawaz, came to him and sat at a bench reserved for clients. Another guard walked in and stood next to Hanif’s desk. Then suddenly, Nawaz got up, pointed a gun at Hanif, and opened fire. By the time the second guard reacted to restrain Nawaz, he had already fired three shots.
A number of people gathered outside grabbed Nawaz and handed him over to the police. Hanif was taken to hospital where he died.
According to Khushab District Police Officer Tariq Wilayat, Nawaz claimed that he shot Hanif because he was an Ahmadi and had blasphemed against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Hanif’s brother registered an FIR under Section 324 (attempt to murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code. He stated that Hanif and Nawaz had been quarrelling for a while. “The guard used to come late to work over which Hanif scolded him and called him out,” his statement said.
Hanif’s uncle told SAMAA TV that Nawaz had killed Hanif over personal grievances. “He’s using blasphemy charges to protect himself. My nephew never insulted the Prophet (PBUH) and we have no connection with Ahmadis.”
On October 26, days before the attack, Hanif updated the profile picture of his Facebook account with a filter to show support for the Boycott_France campaign against the publication of sacrilegious caricatures. The filter reads, “I love Muhammad (ﷺ). My ProphetMyHonor. May Allah Destroy France.” Hanif used to share religious posts on his Facebook timeline quite often.
Blasphemy accusations in Pakistan
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote in its 2019 report that at least 80 people are imprisoned in Pakistan jails for blasphemy and at least half of them are facing a life or death sentence. According to Al-Jazeera, at least 77 people have been killed in the country over blasphemy accusations since 1990.
Blasphemy cases elicit strong emotion in Pakistan. People often emerge to support men who kill over it. Qibla Ayaz, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, finds that this happens because people do not know the teachings of Islam on the matter. The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body that advises lawmakers whether a certain law is repugnant to Islam.
“In Islam, no one can declare any person an infidel,” Qibla Ayaz told SAMAA Digital earlier. In fact, clerics of all sects agreed upon this in January 2018 at the Paigham-e-Pakistan conference in Islamabad. “It is totally unacceptable in Islam for a certain group to take the law into its own hands, declare people infidels, start killing them in the name of commanding good and forbidding from evil.”