A supporter of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, stands next to a poster showing the former cricket star turned politician. AFP / Aamir Qureshi
A supporter of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, stands next to a poster showing the former cricket star turned politician. AFP / Aamir Qureshi

In Pakistan, it doesn’t matter what your status is or how talented you are when it comes to a false accusation of blasphemy. Such accusations can easily land people in hot water and even get them killed, which says a lot about the country’s mob mindset when it comes to the blasphemy law and how people misuse it to settle personal scores.

Pakistani social media were recently filled with posts regarding the gruesome murder of Qutub Rind, a graduate of the National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore and an artist hailing from the Sindh province, over false allegations of blasphemy. Speaking to Pakistan Today, an English-language daily, relatives and friends of the deceased said the police were trying to cover up the incident and hadn’t even arrested a third suspect.

The fact that the slaying took place on July 17 and came to light only recently has raised questions over Pakistan’s frail law-and-order situation. The Express Tribune, another English-language daily, reported that according to police officials, Rind was killed over a dispute over payment of rent. Then another social-media post said that according to one of the culprits and the culprit’s uncle, the victim was killed because both the accused and the victim were drunk.

Whether the police were covering up the incident, the culprits were changing their statements, or any other issue, it does not in any way justify the murder. Pakistan has lost yet another creative mind and nothing can be done to bring him back. However, the least that can be done is to give him and his family and friends justice.

The fact that a false blasphemy accusation can lead to one’s death at the hands of a mob cannot be ignored. And it leaves many wondering not when this will stop, but who will be falsely accused next.

Last year Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM) in the northwestern city of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was lynched by a mob and killed over false allegations of blasphemy. Suspects were arrested and Pakistani senators announced strict punishments for those who falsely accuse someone of blasphemy.

The prime minister in waiting, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, condemned the incident, as did many other leading political figures and human-rights groups.

There have been many similar incidents in the past, and the misuse of the blasphemy law has targeted many oppressed minorities in the country as well.

As Khan and the PTI are set to form the upcoming government, they must prove that they are not a government of only words but rather a one of action, with a proper structure and plan. Imran Khan has often talked about making a Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan), which among many other things for the benefit of the country also promises to improve the law-and-order situation.

It is hoped that the upcoming government and “Naya Pakistan” will act against mob justice and misuse of the blasphemy law and put an end to this once and for all and make sure that Pakistan does not lose another life due to a senseless killing, as such things don’t have any place in a civilized society.

Turyal Azam Khan

Turyal Azam Khan is a Pakistani writer, blogger, and journalist who mainly focuses on current affairs, social issues, lifestyle, and culture. He has written for Daily Times, Dunya Blogs, EACPE, The Nation, Naya Daur, Surkhiyan, The Times of Israel, Street Buzz, IBC English, Mashable Pakistan and The Diplomat.

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