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Mumtaz Qadri funeral held in Bara kahu

02 March, 2016

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RAWALPINDI: Scores of supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, gathered Tuesday for his funeral in his ancestral village in Bara Kahu area, close to Islamabad.

Qadri's funeral prayers were offered in Liaquat Bagh following Zuhr prayers, after which the body was taken to his final burial place.

The funeral procession took nearly six hours to reach as thousands of supporters and members of religious parties had gathered to attend the funeral.

Security was beefed up in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, with thousands of policemen guarding buildings and lined along the route taken by Qadri's funeral procession, AFP reported.

According to Reuters, stick-wielding Sunni Tehreek activists were maintaining security at Tuesday's funeral.

A United Nations official told AFP all its staff had been sent home from various locations in the capital due to security fears, including from the tightly guarded diplomatic enclave.

Qadri, a police bodyguard to Taseer, shot the 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 country, 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.

Analyst Amir Rana said the execution marked a key moment for Pakistan in its more than a decade-long fight against religious extremism.

“I think it is a very critical moment in the political history of Pakistan.It is the first time the political government has made such a decision."

“The resolve is on the rule of law and they will not allow the space for extremism in Pakistan."

But he warned there was potential for the move to backfire by making Qadri a martyr among his supporters and his execution a rallying cry.

Mourners travelled from distant cities, including Karachi and Lahore. In Karachi, members of Jamaat-i-Islami observed his funeral prayers in absentia at the Empress Market.

Scores protested across the country on Monday after authorities announced the hanging had taken place early that morning.

But as security stepped up at flash-points across the country, most dispersed peacefully. Many schools and universities remained closed for the day after shutting early Monday.

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