In Pakistan, Islamic hard-liners expanding their grip on society
Reporting from Rawalpindi, Pakistan — Above a dank, darkened teahouse pungent with the aroma of green chili peppers, a bright blue banner depicts a neighborhood cleric, Qari Hanif Qureshi, declaring: “Anyone opposing laws protecting the sanctity of the prophet Muhammad is condemned!”
Such dire exhortations from local imams are embraced by millions of impoverished Pakistanis scraping by in squalid, dust-choked city neighborhoods and mud-hut settlements.
Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a 26-year-old police commando assigned to guard Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, says Qureshi’s preachings inspired him to assassinate Taseer on Jan. 4. And on a recent afternoon inside the teahouse, another Qureshi follower, Muhammad Zahir, said he was equally moved.