Pakistan's right wing parties celebrated the death of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who was killed on Tuesday in a shooting by a member of his security detail.
Rallies to celebrate the incident were held in some towns at a time when the funeral of the murdered Governor was held in Lahore.
More than 500 religious scholars belonging to the Barelvi school of thought paid rich tributes to the assassin and urged 'Muslims across the country' to boycott the funeral ceremony. They also announced forty days of celebration to mark the killing.
Both the Deoband and Barelvi leaders, who are otherwise at war with each other, appeared to be on the same page in condemning the slain Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader for terming the blasphemy law as a black law. The Barelvi scholars, who claim to be the 'true lovers of the Holy Prophet', took a more hardline stance, said observers.
The largest body of the Barelvi group, the Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan (JASP), whose directions are considered binding on every other organisation that follows that same school of thought, issued a statement saying that "No Muslim should attend the funeral or even try to pray for Salmaan Taseer or even express any kind of regret or sympathy over the incident."
The statement which has been endorsed by senior Barelvi leaders called the assassin Mumtaz Hussain Qadri Ashiqe Rasool Ghaziye Mulk (Lover of the Prophet, Commander of the Country).
Hajji Mohammad Tayyab, who is also the secretary general of the Sunni Ittehad Council that scholars had "repeatedly urged the president, prime minister and Governor Taseer himself that if their knowledge about the blasphemy law was limited, they should consult religious scholars and avoid debating over the issue as it would inflame the people and then anything could happen."
Shah Turabul Haq Qadri's son Siraj, also a senior member of the JASP, endorsed the statement and said it was now binding on every Muslim.