‘Punishable by death’ needs to die

Published: June 16, 2011

It is about time that the term ‘wajibul qatal’ is removed from our collective lexicon forever.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s recent statement, inciting violence against fellow politician Babar Awan amazes and disgusts me. A law minister is supposed to uphold the law, not the other way around.

In most countries,  such a bizarre statement from a public official would instantly result in a prompt resignation.

Political discourse and difference of opinion do not mean anyone has the right to put someone’s life in danger. Healthy societies thrive on differences and emerge stronger, based on dialogue and mutual respect. Ours unfortunately, is still struggling to understand the basic meaning of freedom of speech.

There is a saying that goes around in this country:

“Pakistanis only understand the language of the danda (stick).”

This statement is utterly out of place and grossly inaccurate.

However, it is repeated  so often, through various means, to the people that it has made its imprint on our collective psyche.

Pakistanis are bright, smart, articulate and law-abiding. However, in recent years, events around the globe and in the country have desensitised the people. The culture of violence has perpetuated and permeated in our mindsets so heavily that nothing really matters anymore.

While the advent of social media has empowered the masses and opened avenues of instant communication, daily images of havoc caused by bombs, shootings, killings and attacks have numbed our brains.

Instant decrees of “punishable by death,” are issued by those who are supposed to uphold the law.

What they do not realise is that these calls give tacit approval to various segments of society to violate the law and create anarchy – for instance, the killers of Sialkot brothers who felt they were right in doing whatever they did, or Malik Mumtaz Qadri, who after killing Governor Salmaan Taseer, chanted religious slogans shamelessly. Later Qadri was garlanded by lawyers who raised slogans in his favour at the courthouse.

When the cameras of the world capture these images, much like the recent disgraceful statement of the Punjab law minister, the best we can do is cry foul. We dismiss our own follies, labelling such acts as “attempts by foreigners to malign Pakistan.”

To all those who have their heads buried in the sand under “Mount Conspiracy”:

Look at all these images and decide for yourself.

Who are these people committing such atrocious acts?

Foreigners, or our own countrymen?

It is about time that the term ‘wajibul qatal’ is removed from our national lexicon forever.

It needs to go, before another person dies.


D. Asghar

A mortgage-banker by profession who also loves to write.

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

  • shaiq khan

    when our ulema and mullahs preach the virtues of chopping off the heads of people and glorify violence in the name of jihad then what do you expect? we are told repeatedly that sar kalam karna of ex-muslims,athiests,agnostics and ahmadis are good things,things which make a man a muslim hero.if we want a civilised society we first of all have to stop the islamic fascists from glorifying violence in the name of islam.
    when cold blooded murderers are showered with rose petals and movies made about them,applauding the sickening murder he did and his religious motivation for killing taseer shaheed then our society should not expect anything good in the future.if we fail to louldy condemn the brutalities done in our country in the name of religion then we should expect a future pakistan of chopped hands and feet and rape victims being whipped on our streets( for their crime of getting themselves raped say our maulvis ) and public displays of stoning to death of women.Recommend

  • fahad theba

    action needs to be taken against all the maulvis and televangelists who freely declare people to be ‘wajib-ul-qatal’. these ulema are nothing but hate mongers who spread intolerance and religious bigotry all around our society.Look at what islamic fascism has achieved for our country the rotten state we are in.thousands of lives lost to people screaming ‘allah ho akbar’ who falsely believe that they will be getting 72 virgins in heaven.

    why doesn’t our media weed out from amongst it ranks the supporters of islamic fascism? we have anchors providing lame excuses and justifications for these religious fanatics.it’s time the media did selfaccountability and got rid of the religious fanatics from within its own ranks.Recommend

  • Muslim

    Pakistan was declared Islamic republic. the true ulemas and molvis want Sharia Law to be implemented in Pakistan, being a muslim so as I. But our country people are adopting western culture, they would never want to let Sharia and islamic laws to be implemented, Pakistani people want a secular state not an islamic state, let them choose their own country should be named slakistan.Recommend

  • Happy

    What about your army killing hundred innocents in Swat valley?Recommend

  • Mirza

    This religious guy is supposed to be the law minister of our largest province. Thanks God we have these right wing extremists ruling in only one province. Nothing can justify a hate speech. Inciting young Qadris and bombers that a political opponent should be killed. Only the extreme criminals and haters can support this kind of speech. It is criminal, immoral, unethical and not suitable even for a thug like Rana.
    In Pakistan there is a culture of putting up and endorsing the wrong things. The man bringing in expensive stuff and lot of money for his position/job, his wife, mother, sisters and kids would not question that. If a man does anything wrong his family and friends or political allies would not only support him but would openly come out for his defense. If PML-N keeps these goons as their “law ministers’ then they should be history in the next elections. If people do not stand up against these terrorists and their instigators then they are supporting this culture. This criminal action should not be confused with free speech or politics. Already BB, Salman Taseer, Bhatti and others have died all in Punjab at the hands of the extremists terrorists. Recommend

  • khauf.

    @shaiq khan:

    The islamic republic of pakistan is subject to the law of Quran,,,, Where there is injustice and where there are incompetent and corrupt people rulling the country than should expect people taking extreme steps which results in voilence... But the sad thing is that you people (muslim by name only) will never understand the message of quran... and you will always associate BAD THINGS WITH ISLAM..

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    By the way what’s wrong if Rana thinks that Babar Awan is punishable to death. Isn’t it his personal opinion ?Recommend

  • Anwar

    The only solution is education… educate the publicRecommend

  • arif habib

    What about target killing in karachi & Quetta, drone strikes in Northern areas?Recommend

  • Mirza

    @arif habib:
    I agree with you. Each threat and murder is a crime and must be dealt accordingly with an iron fist. The only difference is in case of Rana, he is law minister and threatening out-loud. If the criminal is known and there are proofs against him, he should be taken to task. I understand what you are saying, bu two wrongs do not make it right.Recommend

  • Humanity

    The soul of Islam departed in 1948 from the bastion of Islam. Only the carcass remain for the vultures and hyenas to maul and gnaw at it.Recommend

  • parvez

    Nicely written, sensible article.
    As long as we wear our religion on our sleeve we will continue to suffer, because there are many who will exploit this so called fervour which blocks reason and logic and replaces it with sentiment and knee jerk reactions.Recommend

  • Sehrish Aslam

    This statement by the law minister is enough to take his office back…Recommend