Son of murdered politician joins Asghar fight

Mohammad Asghar, who is facing the death penalty for blasphemy in a Pakistan. Pic: Aamer Anwar & Co/PA Wire

Mohammad Asghar, who is facing the death penalty for blasphemy in a Pakistan. Pic: Aamer Anwar & Co/PA Wire

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The son of an assassinated Pakistani politician killed for trying to overhaul blasphemy laws has backed calls to free an Edinburgh grandfather languishing on death row.

Mohammad Asghar, 70, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy - and concern for his safety has been increased after he was shot by a prison guard in September.

Author Aatish Taseer, 34, warned Mr Asghar was at risk from “vigilate justice” as long as he remains in prison in Pakistan - and said his father’s killer may have been linked to Mr Asghar’s shooting.

Mr Taseer’s father, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his bodyguards after the politician called for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to be reformed.

The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, has been hailed as a hero by hard-liners and is suspected of encouraging others to follow his lead. An internal investigation into Mr Asghar’s shooting has revealed that the perpetrator guarded Mr Qadri’s cell at the jail in Rawalpindi where both men are being held.

Mr Taseer said: “As long as he is in Pakistan and accused of blasphemy, he is in more danger from vigilante justice than from the law.

“I fell terrible for Mohammad Asghar’s family because it is not simply one man who is a threat to them.

“I would like to send them my deep, heartfelt compassion and as much support as I can possibly offer.”

Mr Asghar was convicted for writing letters in which he claimed to be a prophet. A 70,000-signature petition was delivered to Downing Street by his daughter Jasmine calling for the UK Government to work for Mr Asghar’s release.

Controversial comic Mr Boyle has also backed calls for Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene, and said: “It beggars belief that he’s still alone and in danger in Pakistan. David Cameron needs to listen to Mohammad’s family and do his utmost to bring him home, before it’s too late.”