Thursday, October 8, 2015

To those polluting Twitter with #IamMumtazQadri: Stop

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a landmark decision, maintained the death sentence awarded to Mumtaz Qadri, the man who murdered Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer. The judgment today must have led to a sigh of relief from the family of Mr Salman Taseer. They will finally get the justice they have been battling for an arduous four years.

This is a bold decision by the Supreme Court, which has upheld the institution of justice in the country. It clearly indicates that the country’s highest court has distanced itself from the likes of Maulvi Mushtaq.

Justice might have knocked on the doors of the Taseer family but this conviction will do little to change the prevailing environment of religious intolerance in the country.

This case should have been an easy, open-and-shut case. The verdict should’ve been at the tips of our fingers. Fingers should have been snapped and people should have affirmed in unison,

“He’s guilty, of course!”

But the horrific reality of the situation is painted across all our Twitter pages.

Photo: Twitter

Qadri has become a symbol of faith and bravery for a large percentage of people in Pakistan who still advocate that he was ordained by a divine power to assassinate Taseer. They say that he was a soldier of God.

A murderer has been placed on a pedestal made of misguided religious opinions and beliefs. It is alarming that his execution will take place on that pedestal and immortalise him forever. Despite the ultimate victory for justice in Pakistan, it is a sad day for its history books. The reaction of the people is going to taint Pakistan’s legal legacy forever.

Qadri, for many, is going to die a martyr. Soon enough, the misguided section of society will prop up another caricature on that pedestal and the madness will continue.

Sunni Tehreek (ST) a religious organisation has decided to file a review petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It asserts that,

“The death penalty awarded to Mumtaz Qadri is against Shariah and the Constitution of Pakistan.”

Religious groups are not the only ones rallying behind him. Lawyers of this country gave their unabashed support to Qadri in the early days of his trial. Ninety esteemed lawyers reached the court to defend him. Senior lawyers jumped onto his defence council. That fateful day saw the complete and utter breakdown of our rationality. Reason was defeated, education left abandoned. Even the educated elite faltered and fell into the rhetoric of religious intolerance.

Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, during the hearing in the Supreme Court tried to compare Qadri’s case with that of Ghazi Ilm Din, which I think speaks volumes of the thought processes of a senior lawyer who once was also the chief justice of the Lahore High Court.

He said,

“Educated people lack courage to take an action like Qadri.”

No, Sir. What Qadri did does not require courage. It requires a strong sense of depravity, a misguided sense of justice, a complete violation of Islamic teachings and ignorance so deeply entrenched that it translates into barbarism.

Moreover, do not insinuate that the ‘educated people’ of Pakistan are cowards. It took real courage for Salman Taseer to stand up to the mindless hordes of hate-mongers and speak up against the blasphemy law. That’s what heroism is.

A society which supports murder is not only regressive, it is diseased. People are being killed in the name of religion, honour and tradition. There is no united front against such inhumanity. Our voices are scattered. We’re letting ourselves be swallowed by white noise. Within this static, certain voices need to get louder and be heard. They need to reverberate through every corner of this country and drag all of us in the right direction.

It’s a shame that some of us need to be explained what the right thing is. It’s a shame that good sense needs to be spelt out for many of us. It’s a shame but it is our sordid reality.

So here is the truth about the Salman Taseer case:

Qadri was a murderer. He is no hero. In fact, he is the anti-hero who deserves to be shunned to the gallows.

Salman Taseer did not commit blasphemy. I repeat, he did not commit blasphemy.

And even if he did, which he didn’t, his murder does not make Qadri a heroic vigilante. He is still a murderer, who foolishly considered himself the hand of God and delivered ‘justice’.

If we are to embody the victims of injustice, we should not be embodying him. He is the injustice in our society. If things are to trend on Twitter, they should be in the name of the individuals who were lynched by a mob in Kot Radha Kishan.

Pakistan has a very important lesson to learn in the wake of this development. Difference in opinion should be celebrated, not riddled with bullets. Debate is good, it is necessary for our legal sense to flourish. However, discourse needs intelligent articulation, not mindless rhetoric on social media. Pakistani society is heavily polarised, but that does not have to translate into violence and chaos. We’re lucky that Pakistan has so many opinions. That presents us with a unique opportunity; we can engage with subjects in a rigorous and wholesome manner.

However, we have to guard ourselves against prejudice. We have to arm ourselves with rationality, not guns. We have to embody a sense of justice that is not touched by misguided religious beliefs, a stunted idea of tradition and a foolish sense of honour.

Therefore, I urge everyone to think about what they are saying and who they are supporting. Those who are polluting the Twitter-verse with #IamMumtazQadri:


God forbid such evil should befall you.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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