Editor’s note: The views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of MangoBaaz.
On 29th February Mumtaz Qadri, a murdered charged with killing a sitting governor over blasphemy was hanged after a disgraceful period of two years. I still remember that day fondly, because the government had kept a tight lip on the hanging until it actually happened so when I saw the news I couldn’t believe it.
My faith in this country had been restored because of Qadri’s execution.
I know a trip to the gallows and a country’s progress don’t go hand in hand but Pakistan is not like any other country. This was a guy who while sitting in prison had had two people killed for him. He was a monster who was being labelled as a messiah. He had to go, there was no option.
While Mumtaz Qadri and Salman Taseer have made enough headlines, what we’ve completely forgotten about is Asia Bibi, the woman because of whom it all started. The woman is in prison waiting for a death sentence over drinking water from a well used by Muslims in that area. She was accused of contaminating it because she’s a Christian. And all that was needed was an accusation that she may have committed blasphemy and voila she’s in prison facing a penalty charge. But this was 7 years ago, one would expect moving in 2016 and the bitter medicine of extremism we’ve suffered one would work on changing it but one would keeping on expecting.
The fact is, the elimination of Mumtaz Qadri holds no significance when people still have the free will to exploit a draconian law.
Interestingly, the origin of this law can be traced to everyone’s favorite rulers, the British.
All the efforts to save Asia Bibi and the dozens like her go in vain if we are too scared to address the elephant in the room. Don’t get me wrong, I know they don’t want to get shot in the head too but just by sitting and not talking about it is not going to change things. Change has never been easy, and surely it has never come with an indirect approach. Change demands courage and bluntness. If history has taught us anything, it’s that moving forward is never easy, many a times bloody but it’s worth every drop.
We probably would have another dozen kids killed if we were still itching to shake hands with Taliban after the Peshawar Massacre. That change in our strategy has resulted in drastic decrease in everyday bomb blasts in our country, and no one can deny that part.
I know many people who would condemn Mumtaz Qadri but just shy away from talking about blasphemy law.
Today Asia appeared before the highest court of the land but her life was left hanging in limbo, yet again. She was suppose to face the Supreme Court previously in October but due to a sit-in by religious fundamentalist in Islamabad it was delayed.
Before forming our opinions about the blasphemy law, let’s get one thing straight that blasphemy law is not a ‘non pardonable offence” as described by Pakistan Penal Code. The advocate who drafted the law for his highness Zia – Ul – Dictator consulted the works on Imam Ibn Abidin. Ironically Imam Ibn Adidin himself clearly refuted this position and even went on to even calling the idea of it not being a pardonable as “ridiculous”.
Whatever your position might be on blasphemy itself, we all can agree that the law regarding it, in Pakistan, has been misused countless of times and it’s usually the poor minority class that mostly suffers.
I recently visited the states, and rest assured I had a great time except an unfortunate incident when I was in my last leg of the trip. I had a racist encounter with two people who asked where I was from and when they got to know I was from Pakistan they asked if I would blow them up. It’s not that they were hurting me or anything, I could have simply have walked off, and by no means they represented a significant majority, it was a one-off rare incident but the feeling of helplessness at that very moment when I was reduced to my ethnicity and a twisted view of my faith is something I will probably never forget.This was just one Saturday night now, just imagine what Asia Bibi a mother of 5 might be going through every day for the last seven years in prison for drinking water from a well. Think about that, let that sink in.
Today it’s Asia and tomorrow it can quite possibly be you, and well you know how the saying goes, “and then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me”.
Cover image via: CNN