A momentous decision was reached last week by Pakistan's Supreme Court which acquitted an alleged blasphemer, Asia Bibi, on the death roll, awaiting a decision on her plea.
Hate mongering zealots who have used the blasphemy tool mercilessly over the years. But the developments that have come to pass are in the state of mind.
Asia Bibi (L) in 2017
Not only have they countless non-Muslim citizens with their lives over blasphemy charges, but those who have expressed or have expressed any support in such cases have had to face death threats or were forced into exile.
Their attackers, the self-proclaimed defenders of prophethood, were too often hailed as the true warriors of Islam, declared shaheeds (martyrs) if / when executed, their graves turned into shrines. A case in point, Mumtaz Qadri, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer's bodyguard, who killed him in broad daylight in Islamabad supporting Assia Bibi's cause.
Qadri for killing Taseer. Qadri for killing Taseer. That task fell to Nawaz Sharif's government, which uncharacteristically ordered the execution. Qadri's subsequent sainthood as decreed by organizations as the Tehrik-a-Labaik-Pakistan was a disturbing development. Yet, it was tactfully ignored.
Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) prophethood. After all what can one do, in power or without, when rogue organizations and Islamist groups rise to challenge their behavior when they come under the guise of defending the sanctity of Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) prophethood. This entails any point on the finality of prophethood or any blasphemous words or actions, usually by a local cleric and buoyed by witnesses who often have a grudge against the alleged blasphemer.
Several thousand Islamist hardliners protested as Pakistan saw a pivotal ruling in the country's most notorious blasphemy case.
The growth in numbers of self-righteous zealots who are encouraged to take the law in their hands and resort to violence is the law decides in favor of alleged blasphemer is even more disturbing. Lynching in the name of righteous Islam would become a norm.
Assia and chanting slogans in the name of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Khadim Rizvi's foul mouthed tirades, inciting people to take to the streets.
But frankly this article is not so much about Pakistan's dreaded blasphemy law whose legal and political implications actually deserve a whole thesis. It is about surrendering to extremism, and, not realizing that the Faustian deal is making one's contribution to the future of one's political life outside.
Call it appeasement or strategic retreat, but it is surrender, especially when each backward step only strengthens the extremists in an environment where fear reigns supreme. This is not progress nor political wisdom. Mullah Fazlullah the space to take over Swat and establish his writ there?
Weakness of government, the process of political action and procrastination based on the fear of reprisals on the political front.
Swat back from his grip on the Taliban threat.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) shows its head Mullah Fazlullah, center, at undisclosed location at Pak-Afghan border
Are not we repeating the same mistake with the TLP? It could actually be a far graver one as this very organization is now a political force, the fifth largest party in the country. It's fit to be legitimate but resort to lawlessness and violence. When it comes to the finalization of the PMLN, it is inadvertently supported by the PTI.
And now it is the same PTI, after being on the receiving end of the sordid fury of the TLP, succumbed to its demands by signing a pathetic agreement, which technically leaves the main protagonist, Assia in the lurch.
The TLP is clearly in favor of the blood and has demanded that the government put on the exit control list. Even if the PTI tries to wriggle out of this one by putting the onus on the judiciary for the conditions it faces a bigger dilemma. To stand by the right and to the right of the crippling powers have been made redundant and abetted by the establishment in one way or another. Please note that the TLP's tirade had been directed at the army chief. This implies a very brazen threat to the military ranks.
Forums as a nation, it was a collective moment of pride when Imran Khan delivered his address on the eve of the acquittal, saying it would not allow anyone to paralyze the state or disrupt the government. Khan's impassioned and firm stood against the TLP. At last, there was one politician who had dared stand ground against the rabid zealots.
Even if it did not happen, the PTI government issued by the TLP issued in the same breath as the targeting of the Judiciary and the Army Chief. There is no doubt Khan is the blue-eyed boy of the establishment and has successfully avoided the judiciary's hammer so far.
His show of loyalty should not surprise. But what then? For despite Khan's brave avowals his government left to eat his words after he jetted off to China and his party was left scrambling to defuse the crisis.
No other legislation has had such a devastating impact for thousands of years. It is expected that the same is the case for leverage for countless others unless the wind is taken out of its sails. The million dollar question comes in the form of a state of paralysis.
But for now, the PTI must show the moral courage to stand by the Supreme Court's decision and provide the judiciary the highest security. It must also be said that they deserve to be respected, especially after suffering slander and imprisonment for the past many years. Moreover, it has been prepared for a case in Asia.
With all due respect, it is the least Pakistan can do for the poor woman.