MULTAN: Lawyers in the central Pakistani city of Multan went on strike yesterday to mourn a colleague who was shot dead for defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy.
Gunmen stormed the office of lawyer Rashid Rehman on Wednesday evening and started firing indiscriminately, killing him and injuring two others.
It is the latest high-profile killing linked to Pakistan’s strict laws against defaming Islam.
A prominent provincial governor and a Christian federal minister were assassinated in separate incidents in 2011 for criticising the laws.
Last month a Christian couple were sentenced to death for sending a “blasphemous” text message, with their lawyer suggesting they were framed.
Police official Zulfiqar Ali said Rehman’s attackers were young men who arrived by motorcycle and made no attempt to conceal their identity using masks.
Rehman, who was around 50 years old and married without children, was pronounced dead in hospital.
He was hit by five bullets including one in the head and one in the heart, according to Doctor Ashiq Malik of the city’s Nishtar Hospital. The two other men were said to be out of danger.
“We are observing a strike and no lawyer will appear in any court today to mourn and protest the killing of our colleague,” Sher Zaman Qureshi, president of the District Bar Association Multan, said.
“We demand that the killers of Rashid Rehman should be arrested immediately.”
He added that Rehman had told the association he had received death threats and they had asked the police to provide security, but the request was declined.
Rehman was representing Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University who is accused of making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in March last year.
Hafeez was known at the university for his liberal views.