Pakistan rally ends after assurance over blasphemy law

Hundreds of demonstrators had staged a sit-in that paralysed Islamabad for almost four days.

Islamist activists carry one of their party leader on their sholders during a sit in protest against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri outside the Parliament building in Islamabad
Qadri was convicted for murder and hanged, resulting in periodic protests by his supporters [Faisal Mahmood/Reuters]

Pakistan government has no plans to amend the country’s blasphemy law following protests in its capital Islamabad that left the city paralysed for almost four days.

The Sunni Tehreek group descended on the capital on Sunday to denounce last month’s hanging of officer Mumtaz Qadri for the 2011 murder of secular governor Salman Taseer.

Hundreds of protesters rallied for days in Islamabad before ending their sit-in on Wednesday after gathering assurances from the government. 

READ MORE: Pakistan army called in to quell blasphemy law protest

Taseer had defended a Christian woman who was accused of blasphemy, a highly controversial issue in the Muslim-majority country.

The demonstrators demanded strict Islamic law and the hanging of the Christian woman.

The government warned that 7,000 security forces were ready to be deployed to end the demonstrations but also allowed negotiations to take place that ended the protest peacefully on Wednesday. 

“The government assured the protesters that it had no plans to amend the blasphemy laws. We are also not going to pardon anyone convicted by courts for blasphemy,” Railway Minister Saad Rafique said, who took part in talks with the protest leaders.

READ MORE: Pakistani Christian couple killed by mob


The protests paralysed one of the busiest areas of Islamabad. Most of the businesses in the area and schools across the city remained closed.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Islamabad, said: “The protesters were saying that it was a victory for them”.

“They say what they have really achieved here is putting Pakistan blasphemy law back on the national agenda and that the Pakistan government is now being forced to take a look at the laws and what it does next.”

The government had 7,000 security forces on stand-by to clear up the demonstrators in Islamabad [AP]
The government had 7,000 security forces on stand-by to clear up the demonstrators in Islamabad [AP]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies