The gruesome mob killing of Mashal Khan is sending shock waves across the liberal minority in Pakistan. It will be good if they realise that religion & religion based politics is the root of the problem. This article in the Dawn it seems shows such realisation.
Because while the videos will have caused many to recoil, the visuals and the audio will have made others rejoice.
Turn up the volume and hear the howls and screams. This wasn’t ignorance or the lack of knowledge; it was total belief and piety.
They weren’t screaming for blood; they were chanting the name of God.
The videos are an advertisement and an admonition: this is what we will do, this is what you need to do and this is what must be done.
Like snuff films for the masses, it took minutes and hours for the videos to spread; it’s taken days for the state to respond — a gap that may as well have been an eternity because of the effectiveness of the former and the flaccidness of the latter.
And in the state’s claim that no crime was committed by the victim lies a denial of reality — it doesn’t matter to the murderous that an innocent life was taken.
An innocent life is a price worth paying to defend the higher cause — that no one in no way and at no time may ever even think of doing what the dead man was accused of doing.
If it takes the life of an innocent to reinforce that important message, so be it. It’s pointless of the state to insist he was innocent.
And it is a different world for a second reason: Mumtaz Qadri.
The shrine that has risen atop his grave is the new Lal Masjid. A dangerous, violent and open provocation, in just over a year it has achieved iconic status on the fringes.
To pray at his graveside and spread flowers on his grave is to pledge allegiance to what the executed convict has come to stand for.
Don’t be surprised if it is revealed that several from the Mardan mob have been to the shrine. Don’t be surprised if the next killer or killers will have done the same.
Qadri as a symbol is doubly dangerous because, like in Mardan, the guilt or innocence of the victim doesn’t matter.
The Taseer assassination moved the goalposts: killed not for the crime, but for questioning the law. The Mardan mob has moved them further: kill the suspect, even if innocent, as a warning to all.
The Qadri shrine sanctions both. Instead of being erased from history or remembered for being punished by the state, he is being written into folklore as the vanguard of a new movement.
It must end.
But it won’t.
Yes, it was not ignorance or a cruel mindset that resulted in that killing in cold blood. It was religious belief and piety.
To tackle a problem one need to understand it correctly.