Another mob lynching incident in central Punjab’s district of Nankana Sahib once again lends credence to the fact that the State apparatus has badly failed in maintaining the rule of law, especially when it comes to the public reactions against the incidents of blasphemy.
Pakistan is constantly bearing the fruits of the seed of religious intolerance which was nurtured systematically through biased syllabus, State’s patronage to the extremist outfits, unchecked education of religious seminaries and the provocation on religious grounds using blasphemy laws as a tool.
But the lessons are yet to be learnt by the State institutions and the ruling elite as there is no concrete policy and strategy to put a permanent damper on the misuse of blasphemy laws.
Human rights activists continue voicing their grave concerns over the rise of extrajudicial killings and mob violence committed in the name of religion. The lynching of Waris, outside a police station in Nankana Sahib over the unproved allegations of defiling the holy Quran, is the latest example.
Rawadari Thereek Chairman Samson Salamat urged the government to curb the abuse of blasphemy laws by making required amendments to the blasphemy law. He also underlined the need to take concrete steps to safeguard the victims from mob violence and implement the laws to penalize those attacking police stations and making unfounded claims.
Likewise, Joseph Jansen, the chairperson Voice for Justice, said: “It is sad that announcements are made from mosques to mobilize people using the potentially fatal allegation of blasphemy, and the crowd is aroused for engaging in violence in the name of religion without ascertaining that whether that accused has committed any act of blasphemy purposefully or accidentally.”
According to Joseph, Pakistan has received 15 and 12 recommendations from countries in the 3rdand 4thcycle of its Universal Periodic Review, respectively. These recommendations call for serious legal and administrative measures to be taken by serious legal and administrative measures to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws.
Manzoor Masih Gill, who is the member of National Commission Human Rights of Pakistan, said that taking an accused out of police custody is a serious negligence on the part of the police. “This means that our law enforcement agencies have become helpless or they willfully not involved in such incidents.”
He said that first of all proper investigation should be made by the department concerned and then the case of blasphemy should be be submitted before the court of law to decide the case in accordance with the principles of fair trial.
The president of the Paksitan Tehrik-i-Insaf’s religious wing, Allama Asghar Arif Chisti, said that they strongly condemned the tragedy that happened in Mandi Warburton in Nankana Sahib recently where an alleged blasphemer was taken out of the police station and killed. “We believe that a blasphemer must be punished, but at the same time we believe that a person who is not guilty should be released. No one should have the right to take the law into his own hands.”
Administrator of the Minorities Rights Watch, Zara Gill, is of the opinion the blasphemy accused in Mandi Warburton, Waris, had some mental problems.
“He did not have any children while his wife had left him, which is why he was traumatized. He consulted some sorcery to bring back his wife.”