Instead of taking firm action against extremists who held whole Pakistan to ransom for three days over acquittal of blasphemy case convict Asia Bibi, the Imran Khan government bowed to Islamic hardliner’s demand for not raising objections to a review petition filed by the complainant against the Supreme Court’s judgment in Bibi case.
The newly formed Pakistan government also accepted Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s demand for not letting the convict who was on a death row for eight years, go out of the country. This is a patently a bending over backwards move of the government headed by the 66-year-old cricketer-cum-politician who had, during campaign to the July 25 election, pledged to turn Pakistan into a modern and new country.
Though supporters of Imran Khan say that the government had to accept demands of Islamists after they paralysed the country for three days following the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Asia Bibi in the blasphemy case, but they forget that any government which stoops low to please a section of people does no good to a society or the country. And in the case of Asia Bibi, Imran Khan lost all moral pretentions of being principled and sensible in his dealing with the TLP, the extremist group which triggered mayhem on the streets, damaged roads and set ablaze several public properties in their frenzied protest against the apex court’s verdict.
Instead, it showed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan in the poor light.
By taking strict action against protesters rather than bowing to their dictates, the Pakistan government would have shown the world that Islamabad is committed to equality, democracy and rule of law in the country. But unfortunately, a politician in Imran Khan has not allowed this to happen. He capitulated before vote bank politics. An upright, straightforward and determined leader would have rather encouraged his countrymen to celebrate the Supreme Court’s historic verdict as it overturned the death sentence meted out to Asia Bibi over charges of blasphemy which has been brazenly misused in Pakistan against religious minorities and journalists critical of jehadis and fundamentalists in the country.
The mother of five children’s only crime was that she had taken a sip of water from a bucket she had fetched for her Muslim women friends in June 2009. Accusers’ stand has been that since Asia Bibi belonged to a minority Christian community, she should not have touched the bucket that was filled with drinking water meant for her Muslim women colleagues. This is a ridiculous accusation. In any civilized country, accusers would have rather faced jail terms for encouraging discrimination and untouchability in the society. But since Pakistan is a country where life primarily moves around rigid form of Islamic laws, all social and moral values end at the altar of fanaticism, instead of at the high perch of graciousness and equality.
The Pakistan Supreme Court tried to restore rule of law, equality of people before the constitution through its verdict on Asia Bibi.
It generated hopes that non-Muslim minorities will one day have the same rights as their Muslim neighbours—whether to drink water, worship as they please or speak their minds. But radical Islamists don’t believe in religious pluralism, they are hell bent on tearing apart any law that ushers in change in established norms of the Pakistani society. And this is what the TLP extremists showed when they laid down three-day seize around Pakistan. They called for the heads of the judges who announced the verdict and demanded the removal of the government. Yet the government headed by Imran Khan, who is said to have come to power with support from Islamic hardliners and the country’s army, did what suit its political survival. It struck a deal with the TLP hardliners to end strikes that had paralysed the whole Pakistan for three days. Even as the Pakistan government has momentarily remained successful in ending TLP-led protests, the whole country will suffer incalculable damage in the long run if the former panders to Islamists’ dictates and blocks flow of judgment coming to needy and destitute.
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