- Influence giving way to unchecked violence
A Hindu school owner was accused by one of his students of committing blasphemy in Ghotki, Sindh resulting in a complete shut down as a violent mob of hundreds terrorised the town. Thankfully no casualties have been reported so far probably because the main accused was taken into custody before the mob could get their hands on him that would have most likely resulted in him getting lynched as has happened in such circumstances so many times before. That the mob was led by the brother of Mian Mithoo, a former MNA of the PPP and an influential personality (pir) in Ghotki suggests that law enforcement agencies refrained from taking pre-emptive action to stop the escalation. He has also been accused in the past for facilitating forced conversions of Hindu girls. Hindu families had to hide in their homes for hours out of fear as the charged mob went about vandalising a Mandir, ransacking five Hindu-owned shops and setting fire to the school in question. More than seventy people involved in blasphemy cases have been murdered in the last thirty year in Pakistan.
In 2017 Mashal Khan, a prominent figure at his university was shot dead after being falsely accused of blasphemy by a KP tehsil councillor among others. Although no one has been given the death sentence for the crime they usually languish in jail for years seeking justice. It took ten years for Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy to win her freedom. During those years the country would see the murder of a sitting governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who took up her cause and opposed the blasphemy law; multiple violent protests across the country led by religious extremists against her release and the formation of the TLP, a far right religious party whose politics revolves around the blasphemy law. It is high time the government start punishing those who misuse the blasphemy law with the same ferocity that is meted out to an alleged blasphemer. Those using their influence to aid or incite a mob should be made an example of. The Sindh government must not ignore this latest incident and take action; otherwise there will be more of the same.