Unfortunately, Qadri has a strong argument

Published: February 1, 2015

Despite countless developments in other parts of Pakistan’s socio-political web during the same time, this particular case is still collecting dust.

Most stories, real or fictional, carry an antagonist and a protagonist. What sets the whole thing apart is the definition of who is who, something that varies depending on the person you speak to. Salman Taseer’s murder is a prime example of this very phenomenon. 

When news of Taseer’s murder was flashed across national TV back in 2011, the reaction was sadly divided. There were sections that rightly spoke against the gruesome murder, but unfortunately, there were sections that defended the murder, speaking in favour of the murderer Mumtaz Qadri, using the country’s ugly blasphemy law as an excuse.

January 4, 2015, marked the fourth year since the incident took place, but despite countless developments in other parts of Pakistan’s socio-political web during the same time, this particular case is still collecting dust.

In a bizarre development, important documents pertaining to the case suddenly disappeared from the Attorney General’s (AG) office. Qadri’s appeal was due around the same time at the Islamabad High Court. While it is incorrect to believe that copies of the documents will not be produced again, the more pressing issue is why it is taking so long for this case to reach its conclusion.

Legal compulsions can be understood. They exist in every system and a system as fragile as Pakistan’s is going to have even more loopholes. Socio-political compulsions, unfortunately, can also be understood as far as this case goes. It is obvious that certain sections of Pakistan’s Muslim majority population consider Qadri a hero and his actions justified. A combination of both legal and socio-political compulsions makes for an extremely worrisome mix. Most of the blame here lies on socio-political life, since it makes up the very fabric the legal structure is based on. However, having said that, it should not cover the inherent weakness of Pakistan’s judicial system.

Building on the euphoria of the lawyer’s movement against Pervez Musharaf, Iftikhar Chaudhry was, by far, the most powerful chief justice in Pakistan’s history. However, power and responsibility do not always go hand in hand, and that was Chaudhry’s biggest shortcoming. His time in office revolved around more muscle flexing and less substance. Whereas one had hoped that the judiciary would become independent and apolitical, it ended up becoming extremely political within an inbuilt vendetta against the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Swift justice was replaced by selective justice and responsibility was replaced by revenge.

The division between the judiciary and the executive became pencil thin as the latter went out of its way to impose its authority on matters left, right and centre. When Chaudhry bid adieu in 2013, he left behind a judiciary that still lacked substance at its core – the same judiciary that has made a mockery of Taseer’s murder case.

While it is unfair to put the blame completely on the judiciary, it is also unfair to expect the Pakistani society to become more open-minded with time and not leave any room for the celebration of cold blooded murder. Societies do not change with the time alone. It takes a change in narrative, a change in thinking process, a change in political outlook and a change in the very definition of right and wrong. It takes the complete annihilation of the thought process that defends murderers like Qadri. It takes the complete annihilation of religion from public sphere.

Prolonging Qadri’s case only adds weight to the well-established notion that blasphemy is an untouchable issue in Pakistan. In a society where religion and public life were not interlinked, Qadri would face justice. In a society where religion and public are deeply interlinked, Qadri has a strong argument unfortunately. The strength of Qadri’s stance can be judged from the fact that ever since the blasphemy laws were implemented during Ziaul Haq’s regime, no government that followed has made a concrete effort towards removing or even revisiting them. Pervez Musharraf diluted the blasphemy laws, but that was a futile exercise.

There are hushed voices in government circles against the blasphemy laws, but they lack commitment. No sitting government in Pakistan will take up the task of removing the blasphemy laws, or for that matter even the anti-Ahmaddiya laws. No one wants to face the heat. No one wants to take the risk.

The day a sitting government in Pakistan removes the blasphemy laws and destroys every legal mode for murderers like Qadri to go free is the day this country will take a turn for the better. Everything before that is only talk. Everything before that reeks of indifference and non-seriousness towards things that truly matter.

And for that man who throw petals at Qadri, the one who puts garlands on him, hugs him and kisses him, congratulating him for having brutally murdered a person is no less of a murderer himself.

salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

The writer works in the Education Sector and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (twitter.com/salmanzafar1985)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    “who throw petals at Qadri, the one who puts garlands on him, hugs him and kisses him, congratulating him for having brutally murdered a person is no less of a murderer himself.”
    This should be printed on ever newspapers frontpage and should appear in all media channels.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    I am not sure abut the connection between heading and blog itself,Recommend

  • Sami

    All i know that Civil war is knocking at the doors of Pakistan and the world is going to alienate us but we are playing God-God and Muslim-Muslim on our soil. We are not going anywhere. We will engulf ourself in the sheer Religious bigotry.
    We will continue to chant Islam as a Religion of Peace while we will continue to justify killings on the name of Islam as well.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    The quality of education in Pakistan has deteriorated considerably, starting with the indiscriminate nationalization of schools and colleges by Bhutto. It is very difficult to find Pakistanis who can think and speak rationally. There was a time when everyone read books. Not any more. Even the prime minister (and Imran Khan, for that matter) have probably not read a book for years. The only thing subject most Pakistanis talk about nowadays is religion, though there are a few who also talk about politics and cricket. We need to teach our children that they should not hate people who do not belong to their religion or sect, that all men and women are equal, and that no one should be killed because he or she is different from them. Even though it will take a very long time for them to become absolutely tolerant, we should begin teaching them now.Recommend

  • Prashant

    “It takes the complete annihilation of the thought process that defends murderers like Qadri. It takes the complete annihilation of religion from public sphere.”

    A country which is officially addressed as an “Islamic Republic” cannot get rid of religion from the public sphere, especially after having come this far.

    Many of those who were alleged to have committed a blasphemous act never faced any charges and were terminated by the crowds before they could be tried, this is a mindset which is not going to change by removing laws in fact, the laws are a product of the mindset among the people and not vice versa.

    “No one wants to face the heat. No one wants to take the risk.”

    Another man, the namesake of the author did take the risk and he not only faced the heat but has been made history, the examples set by the liberals of Pakistan pale in comparison to the examples set by the likes of Qadri.

    You need to watch one of the interviews done by a leading Pakistani anchor with Salman Taseer where she literally blames him for committing blasphemy, these are the educated lot and hence it makes one believe it will take atleast a generation for Pakistan to undo what has gone wrong.Recommend

  • [email protected]

    This commentary on the whole Qadri saga is mostly reasonable, but I kept looking for information on how his legal argument is “strong.” This blog needs a new title.Recommend

  • Me

    a word in his blog address is the keyRecommend

  • Matt Kovach

    end blasphemy laws worldwide http://end-blasphemy-laws.org/Recommend

  • Syed A. Zafar USA

    Although the writer is quite right in explaining how the majority of our society, our rulers, lawmakers and the judiciary are not only in silent support of blasphemy laws, but also indirectly support such heinous criminals and religious fanatics, but we must not forget that we had a golden opportunity to undo such inhuman laws in President Musharraf’s rule. The majority of our society including our judiciary, army of lawyers and allied political parties were so much in mode of enmity with him that even his sincere efforts to correct things in our society, his remarkable services for the nation and his philanthropy were seen as devil’s deeds and efforts, and being out rightly rejected. Not only his sincere efforts towards repealing blasphemy laws were rejected and condemned but also an impression was given that he has close ties with Ahamdis and that he is a Pro Ahmadi. We must not forget that Mr. Musharraf was the only leader of Pakistan who ordered to take out the ‘Religion Clause’ out of Pakistani passports which was specifically added to hurt and discriminate against minorities in general and Ahmadis in particular. The mullahs, their allied lawmakers and politicians made such a big deal against Mr. Musharraf’s honest efforts that he had to withdraw his orders.

    I do not agree with the writer that Mr. Musharraf “diluted the blasphemy laws, but that was futile exercise” That is the problem with us. We love to cry, complain and blame but whenever God gives us chance to save Pakistan to get rid of our discriminatory and inhuman laws to provide equal rights to all the citizens of Pakistan, not only we shay away from it but also become silent spectators. God does not help those who do want to help themselves. It takes more than talking to talk. “Sirf ro lanay say qaumon kay naheen phirtay hain din, khoon fishaani bhee hai laazim, ashk afshani kay saath” (besides crying, it takes sacrifices too) If we can do the whole country upside down and let dozens of innocent civilian die to save a justice’s job who proved to be the supporter/savior of religious extremists/terrorists, why can’t we take a firm but peaceful stand against such inhuman laws which are not only dividing and destroying Pakistan but also giving bad name to it? Zameer-e-insan agar sada day, toe sadaaqatein aankhein kholtee hain, Qalam bhee haathon mein boltaa hai, aur QASRE INSAAAF BHEE GOONJTAA HAI” (It takes conscience). [email protected]Recommend

  • siesmann

    How does one expect of kids not to hate,when the very textbooks they read preach hatred.Recommend

  • Hasan Jawaid (USA)

    What an irony t? Not a single post in response to this article either supports Qadri’s action or see things from such an extremist perspective. I am not amazed on reading all these posts because this is what people would like to have – a little more sense into our laws – after all hasn’t democracy been behind the drum beats of every political party? if we claim to be a democratic country, why doesn’t parliament/senate/assembly who claims to represent people respect people’s wishes. I guess, with current mindset, writing is on the wall that there is a storm, a bloody revolution, in making – worse than france or anything that history has ever witnessed – and, I think we need it.Recommend

  • Shahid Ijaz

    Writer Comments, “using the country’s ugly blasphemy law as an excuse” and “The day a sitting government in Pakistan removes the blasphemy laws” is best proof that he is protagonist of Ideology, that “people doing Blasphemy should be allowed to Live freely.” He could have generated argument on amending it-but calling it, “ugly” and “needed to be removed” is making it easier for us to conclude that writer is representative and follower of modern Zionist Ideology-as many media people are! or he is person who has no Knowledge of Basics of Islam…Recommend