Islamabad: Five hundred Pakistani religious scholars have warned that anyone who mourns the death of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, a senior ruling party official who opposed the country's blasphemy law, could suffer the same fate.
In a statement, scholars from Jamat Ahle Sunnat, a group representing Pakistan's majority Barelvi sect, considered moderate, said, "The supporter is as guilty as the one who commits blasphemy," adding that politicians, the media and others should learn "a lesson from the exemplary death".
Investigators yesterday probed the possibility of a larger conspiracy behind Taseer's killing as they arrested more than 40 people, including 36 policemen. The joint investigation comprises officials of the Federal Investigation Agency and civil and military intelligence.
Thousands flocked to Taseer's funeral in Lahore yesterday even as lawyers showered Mumtaz Qadri, his killer, with rose petals as he made his first appearance in court.
The national flag flew at half mast a day after Taseer was gunned down by Qadri, a member of his security detail from Punjab's elite police force, apparently incensed by the politician's opposition to the blasphemy law.
Thousands waved Pakistan Peoples Party flags at Taseer's funeral, which was attended by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Markets, offices and educational institutions remained closed in Lahore.