Mumtaz Qadri is now very scared. He appealed the courts to spare his life for taking the life of Punjab’s sitting Governor, Salman Taseer in 2011. He is missing spine because he claimed that by killing Taseer he was serving God who would obviously keep the doors of heaven open for him. Well then why be afraid of death? He is also a narcissist. He gloated away at the post-murder scene after confessing the killing, all through the media spectacle and gave statements chock-full with vanity and pride for doing what he believed was the work of God.
The Supreme Court has now dismissed Qadri’s review petition against his death sentence. The fact that this news comes at the cusp of our beloved prophet (PBUH)’s birthday is divine retribution for those who believed he deserves the severest punishment for taking down an innocent man. All scriptures talk of how the vain fall. The people who threw garlands at him are now either busy picking on the imbecility of Donald Trump or taking a two week hiatus until the news folds into the recesses of more tragic events.
We cannot let this be forgotten. It is that rare victory for those who feel dejected by the state’s inability to stand up for the downtrodden and oppressed minorities of this country. Salman Taseer was targeted for his stance on Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who got accused of blasphemy because she dared to demand dignity from her Muslim neighbours. An accusation that the mainstream pulls out from their back pockets to keep non-Muslims in line.
What Donald Trump is doing in the US is a much more benign version of this, only limited to rhetoric. The unabashed license to kill this country’s seminaries and mosques gave its male populous has come to its ultimate end with Qadri’s actions. Sadly, very few Muslims open their mouths to protest this than they do to protest intolerant diatribe in the US against a largely elite Muslim strata. Qadri’s is the kind, however that is far more dangerous. The stakes are higher. People in this country have far more limited constitutional protection than in America. Until Qadri sees the gallows, the message to the young men in this country is that taking the law in your own hands is more glorious than working as a citizen. That your own notion of virtue is superior to the apex court’s notion. This is the lawlessness where Hobbes described life as brutish and short.
I feel we can do better than that. We can rejoice that there is some spine left in our country. “It is our responsibility to safeguard the law and stand by our oaths,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said. He also said that criticism of the blasphemy law did not amount to blasphemy. Even common sense in this country can sometimes be revolutionary.
What would be even more necessary is to stage a reflective inquiry into why a Brelvi Muslim as a member of the Punjab police’s Elite Force turned against the man he swore to protect. The failure is on many levels: The lack of psychometric testing of our law-enforcement officials; the widespread intolerance in our schools and mosques; the media’s feverish need to sensationalize news and hype an imagined breach of sensibilities to get better ratings; the pathetic back-foot that Salman Taseer’s political party played on when he was campaigning for Asia Bibi and the glorification of shaheeds in our society. As a people, we fail to sort and classify heroes accurately, erroneously placing the crown on the one who drew the dagger against an unarmed man.
As a people, we also need to work towards re-educating our youth. Unlearning is a mighty hard task. We should have much understanding for this false sense of a persecuted Muslim global minority and enable our country to progress so these insecurities are addressed and not festered. We should also have the ability to explain in detail what it is that made Qadri see the gallows. It is an opportunity to inculcate not just the fear that is needed from a state that is serious about protecting its citizens but also a love for those who continue to stand up for the fight for the empowerment of minorities and particularly women minorities in this country.
Even now Asia Bibi is in jail anticipating death because no one wants to protect the life of someone even accused of blasphemy, not even those who imprison her. She is separated from her children who were traumatized from the mob that took their mother away. Whereas this country’s educated Twitteratis have all the time for #FreeMumtazQadri trends, the #FreeAsiaBibi trend just never has its day.
Till now the Salman Taseer narrative was told to our people from the Mumtaz Qadri angle. Mumtaz Qadri’s narrative has to be told to Pakistanis from the Salman Tasser and Asia Bibi angle.