Mardan killing

The lynching of an alleged blasphemer in Mardan shows popular distrust in the justice system

PTI critics will say that the preceding rally stoked the mob that brutally killed Maulana Nigar Alam, for allegedly having committed blasphemy, that the party encourages people to take justice into their own hands. Whether or not, this incident is because of the PTI, it cannot be denied that such incidents are on the rise, that mobs are well able to take justice into their own hands. The killing took place in Mardan, not far from where Mashal Khan, a student at the nearby Bacha Khan University, was killed by a mob over allegedly blasphemous Facebook posts. That incident, almost seven years ago, after a police investigation showed that there had been no blasphemy committed, led to many accused being sentence, including to death, but no punishment has taken place. The takeaway is that it is easy to accuse someone of blasphemy, knowing that a mob will support the accuser, and there will be no consequences of the false accusation.

When a blasphemy accusation is made, even the apparently non-devout seem to become impassioned. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that it is better to be safe than sorry in punishing the blasphemer. One reason seems to be the inability of the justice system of the state to handle this. Courts do not like to handle such cases, and a high court judge has been murdered for giving bail to a blasphemy accused, and a lawyer murdered merely for representing an accused. The weakness of the state is not just in its ability to get a conviction. Many blasphemy accusers have other grudges which would not attract a mob, let alone inflame it to killing. The justice system has failed to charge anyone with making a false accusation. Reforming the blasphemy law is also problematic, for political parties prefer to duck the issue, and prefer to climb on the popular pro-lynching bandwagon.

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It is unlikely that PTI opponents will adopt this issue, except perhaps tangentially. There is a problem with the justice system as a whole, not just in blasphemy cases. Mobs have gathered to administer beatings to suspected thieves, instead of handing them over to the police for investigation and then trial by the courts. If citizens feel certain that any blasphemy accused, handed over to the police, will be investigated and punished by a court, and that anyone making a false accusation will be punished, crowds will stop gathering. But until then, people will dies.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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