By Ali Suleman
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology
Before I begin, let me state it very clearly that I do not oppose any God-made law, nor do I support anyone who committed blasphemy or anyone who supports someone who committed blasphemy. So, kindly do not kill me when you read this. Thanks.
Now moving on, the last time I picked my pen on the importance of law and against the frantic mob justice was when an angry gang had lynched two brothers in Sialkot. “Let this incident really be the beginning of an end to brutality of any kind, and a pledge to never support extrajudicial killings in any case, in any shape, of anyone” I had written (read: wished). But the only thing I have learnt from our mistakes is that we haven’t learnt anything from our mistakes. On the afternoon of January 4th, when Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was about to enter his car after his return from an Islamabad restaurant, an Elite Force security guard named Mumtaz Hussain Qadri opened fire on him, hit him by 27 bullets. The Governor died at the spot. The reason for murder? Mr Taseer had declared the Blasphemy laws a kaala qanoon, according to Mr Mumtaz Qadri. A human being put to death just for he uttered a single sentence. You think this is depressing? Take this. The murder sparked a debate, literally dividing the nation into pro-Qadri and anti-Qadri. Many of those whom I thought I had included in the list of the proponents of rational justice either were adamant, after this incident about how justified this murder was, or were arguing about how justified it is to kill the murderer now. Rationality? Gone for a hike.
All over the country, text messages like “Qadri tujhe salaam”, “Mumtaz Qadri ko riha karo” etc. started floating. What I personally believe is that Mr Qadri surely is one chivalrous, dauntless, valiant son of the soil. One has to have guts to murder, and that too such a high-profile one. But had he used his chivalry to stop a mob torching an alleged thief alive, I would have hailed him. Had he utilized his dauntlessness to protect a Dr Shazia Khalid from an influential rapist, I would have saluted him. Had he employed his valiance to gun down an American drone for the sovereignty of his country, I would have honoured him. But sadly, he made use of all his abilities and capabilities to murder someone he was entrusted by his State to safeguard from his own life according to the oath he took while joining the Elite force. Only God knows what was going on in his mind, but I, at least am deeply ashamed of him for what he has done. I’m sorry sir, but murder, extrajudicial, cannot be justified, anyhow. Of anyone. By anyone. In any case.
Not going into what statement the Governor had given about the Blasphemy laws, and whether Asia Bibi had actually committed blasphemy or not, and whether the Governor should have supported the woman or not; one thing is obvious: our nation is suffering from a severe deficiency of tolerance.
What has been done has been done. It cannot be reverted back. Now what next? Stop for a moment, and think. Think what we, as a society have become. And think where we are heading towards. Solution? Just one. And no, that’s not abusing Qadri or to demand his hanging. It is in fact refuting those who support the death of anyone, no matter who he is. Killing someone just because he doesn’t agree with you, whether the excuse is religious, political, social or financial, proves less of your being an aashiq e rasool, and more of that you lack rational arguments to prove your point, and hence have employed violence to just shut the other person up!
If you still think this is just another murder, think again. The murder itself and the reaction following it, combined, is not the murder of a political leader, as some politicians might term it. Not the murder of a business tycoon either, as the ghareeb awam could categorize it. It’s not even the murder of a government official, as the mainstream media would portray it. And it’s not the murder of a gustaakh e Rasool, as the religious parties would exploit it. Instead, it’s the murder of justice. The murder of tolerance. The murder of freedom. It’s the murder of temperance, of sanity, of sagacity. It’s the murder of sensibility. It’s the murder of reason. It’s the murder of rationality.
Not for me, not for anyone, not even for this country, but at least for your ownself… please fellow countrymen, at least now start understanding the importance of the legal justice. Don’t try to teach anyone a lesson yourself if you think he’s guilty. Punishment is the right of the State only, not mine, not yours, not ANY individual’s. And this time I direly hope we start taking the law of the Land seriously. For, if an incident of such intensity even cannot teach us anything at all, I wonder what else would.