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Taseer's killer must be punished: Musharraf

world Updated: Jan 16, 2011 20:12 IST

Condemning the killing of Punjab province governor Salman Taseer, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said the killer must be punished.

"The assassination of Taseer was wrong and his murderer should be punished," the Express Tribune quoted Musharraf as saying, at a conference of his party All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) in London.

The man who shot the governor should not be permitted to challenge the state's writ, said the former military chief who ruled the country for eight years after taking power from the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Governor Taseer, a vocal critic of Islamist militancy in Pakistan, was shot dead in a market in Islamabad Jan 4 this year by Qadri, one of his guards. Qadri said he killed the governor for opposing the country's blasphemy law.

Musharraf added, since Muslims are very emotional about the blasphemy law, "the controversial law must stay" in Pakistan. However, he said, the Islamic concepts of "ijtehad" and "ijma" should be used to see what can be done about the miscarriage of justice.

Asked why he had not amended the blasphemy law when he was in power, Musharraf said he had introduced some procedural changes requiring complainants to go to the judiciary rather than the police stations to file complaints.

About his arch rival Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf said his deadlines and demands were non serious. Sharif has connections with the Taliban, he said, which is why he does not openly condemn them.

Musharraf, who has been living in self imposed exile since 2008, recently announced the opening of APML's offices in Quetta and Dera Bugti, intending to return to Pakistan and fight in the next election scheduled to be held in 2013.

Musharraf's party also set up chapters in the US and Canada, where he claimed he had received a good response from the Pakistani diaspora. Musharraf also intends to travel by train throughout Britain and meet supporters.