A total of 22 people, including many policemen, have been arrested by Pakistani authorities over the killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, amid reports that a top official had warned about the extremist leanings of the assassin of the outspoken Pakistan Peoples Party leader.
The joint investigation team probing Taseer's killing yesterday arrested two officials, who assigned Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the policeman responsible for gunning down Taseer on Tuesday, to the Governor's security detail and eight more personnel of the Elite Force, local media reported on Wednesday.
Three more policemen from Rawalpindi, including an officer, were arrested this morning. Police detained Qadri's five brothers and father yesterday and three more of his relatives, who were apparently aware of his plan to kill the Governor were arrested today.
Meanwhile, 'Geo News' reported quoting unnamed sources as saying that Rawalpindi's former regional police chief Nasir Khan Durrani had noted in a file that Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the policeman who gunned down Taseer on Tuesday, and 10 other personnel had hardline religious or extremist leanings.
Durrani noted in the file that Qadri and the others should not be assigned to provide security to VIPs. Despite this alert, Qadri was deputed to guard Taseer on at least five occasions in the past two years, the channel reported. Qadri joined the Punjab Constabulary in 2003 and was deputed in 2008 to the Elite Force, an anti-terrorism unit that guards VIPs.
A police officer told the Dawn newspaper that Qadri was deployed to guard Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on at least one occasion. The assassin's name was not on the duty roster of policemen assigned to guard the Governor till Monday night.
Qadri's name was included at his own request on Tuesday morning, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media.
Qadri, 26, was also removed from the Special Branch for being a "security risk" and had told several of his colleagues of his plan to kill Taseer for opposing the controversial blasphemy law, Geo News reported.
Investigators plan to question the officials, who recruited Qadri in the Elite Force. Qadri laid down his assault rifle and surrendered moments after he shot Taseer at the posh Kohsar Market in the heart of Islamabad on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Pakistani police have also arrested a man who had announced a Rs 20 million prize for anyone who killed Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer for opposing the country's controversial blasphemy law.
Sardar Ebaad Dogar of Khangarh near Multan was arrested on Tuesday shortly after Taseer was gunned down by a guard who claimed he was angered by the Governor's opposition to the blasphemy law.