The lynching of a man in Khanewal by a mob after he was taken out of the local Mian Channu police station showed complete breakdown of law and order and the failure of the justice system. The only thing on display here was not a devotion to the Holy Quran, whose desecration was supposed to be the crime committed, so much as the display of the complete bypassing of the state’s system of criminal justice in favour of mob justice. That the police are not trusted with the custody of someone accused of desecration shows that the police do not enjoy the trust of the citizenry. It is to be noted that the police is distrusted for all offences, being seen as both corrupt and inefficient.
The state has not been very helpful of late, with the way it has been mollycoddling extremist forces like the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan, as well as the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan. This has merely sent the signal that the way to get things done is to do them oneself. It is unhelpful that the police is apparently willing, as it did in Mian Channu, to act as a silent spectator. Perhaps the Mian Channu police felt that they had succeeded, in avoiding the fate of the Charsadda police station which was burnt down in November by a mob trying to get hold of someone accused of the very crime of desecrating the Quran. However, the Charsadda police did not hand over the accused.
As in December, when a Sri Lankan factory manager was first killed by a mob over a blasphemy accusation in Sialkot, the authorities are busy looking busy doing nothing. The Khanewal police has arrested a large number of people, and both the Prime Minister and Chief Minister have issued statements making bloodcurdling threats against those guilty of the outrage. However, neither has said anything about any measure, as mentioned in the National Action Plan, about tackling extremism, or about creating trust in the criminal justice system. This silence ensures that the Mian Channu incident will most probably not be the last.