Pakistan National Bank's manager shot dead by security guard over 'blasphemy'

Security guard was greeted by the crowd [Screen Grab]

A senior manager of the state-run National Bank of Pakistan was killed by the bank’s security guard over the allegation of “blasphemy” in the country’s Punjab province, the police said on Thursday.

Malik Imran Hanif, manager of the multinational commercial bank’s Quaidabad tehsil in Khushab, some 250 kms from here, was shot by the bank’s security guard Ahmed Nawaz, a retired Army personnel, on Wednesday morning.

The deceased’s family said that it was a “cold-blooded murder” by the accused over a personal grudge, claiming that the guard took the cover of blasphemy to save himself.

The manager was shifted to Lahore’s Services Hospital in a critical condition where he succumbed to his injuries on Thursday, the police said, adding that Nawaz has been arrested.

According to senior police officer Tariq Wilayat, Nawaz claimed that he opened fire at Hanif after he committed blasphemy.

“This claim cannot be verified at this stage. Police are probing the matter from all the aspects including the statement of the deceased’s family that Nawaz killed him to settle a personal grudge against him,” the officer said.

Hanif’s family said that Nawaz was fired a few months ago but he was subsequently reinstated. He nursed a grudge against Hanif over his sacking and both had a heated argument recently.

Muhammad Razzak, another guard of the bank, told the police that after completing his nightshift, he was changing his uniform when he heard the gunshots.

“I rushed towards the bank office where I found Hanif in a pool of blood and Nawaz fleeing,” he said.

In a video posted on the social media, Nawaz can be heard saying he killed the bank manager because he had committed blasphemy.

Nawaz was seen being greeted by a crowd of supporters who also raised religious slogans and roamed in the city streets.

Later, he surrendered himself before the police.

Leaders of some religious groups addressed the mob from the rooftop of the police station where he surrendered himself.

Police officials were seen standing helplessly and no case was registered immediately.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.

Pakistan has extremely strict laws against defaming Islam, including the death penalty, and rights campaigners say they are often used to settle personal disputes in the Muslim-majority country.

In July, an American-Pakistani, who was facing blasphemy allegations, was shot dead in a courtroom by a teenager in Peshawar.