Islamabad [Pakistan], June 30 (ANI): A Pakistan anti-terrorism court has sentenced a man to death for killing his employer over blasphemy allegations.
The convict, Ahmed Nawaz, who was posted as a security guard at the National Bank of Pakistan branch in Quaidabad tehsil of Punjab's Khushab district, had shot dead the branch manager, Malik Imran Hanif, in November last year.
The guard had claimed to have killed Hanif over committing blasphemy, with a video circulating on social media in which he could be heard saying that the deceased manager had "insulted the prophet", Dawn reported
Other videos shared on Twitter showed the guard being greeted by a crowd of supporters after killing the manager. The security guard and the mob then raised slogans as they walked on the street.
The suspect was then joined by leaders of a religious group, all of whom raised slogans and addressed supporters from the rooftop of the Quaidabad Police Station. Police personnel could be seen standing nearby, recording videos.
Police had later arrested Nawaz and charged him for the murder under the anti-terrorism law.
According to the Pakistani advocacy group Centre for Social Justice, between 1987 and 2017, an estimated number of 1,549 people have been charged under the draconian blasphemy laws; for comparison, before 1986, only 14 cases have been reported.
More than 70 cases of extrajudicial killings by vigilantes of those accused of blasphemy have taken place since the 1980s till the present day, the think tank stated.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been criticised by human rights groups who say they are often used maliciously and to persecute religious minorities in the Muslim majority country.
On May 12, the 2020 report International Religious Freedom released by the US Department of State highlighted a downward spiral of religious expression in Pakistan, most notably in the form of blasphemy laws, punishment for which ranges up to the death penalty.
Citing civil society reports, the IRF report mentioned that there were many individuals imprisoned on blasphemy charges, at least 35 of whom had received death sentences, as compared with 82 individuals imprisoned on blasphemy charges and 29 who received death sentences in 2019. (ANI)