The extrajudicial murder of Tahir Ahmad Naeem was bad enough, but what was arguably worse was the reaction of the Pakistani people followed. The celebration of another example of extrajudicial “justice” and the proclamation of the murderer as a “hero” served as the latest example of Pakistan’s tendency to worship and praise extrajudicial murderers.
The role of the blasphemy allegation is irrelevant here. Whether or not one believes Naeem was guilty, or if he deserved to be in court or if blasphemy laws should be changed – it doesn’t matter. While those are important topics to discuss, the problem here is that a citizen decided to take the law into their own hands and carry out a brutal murder, knowing that they would be hailed as a hero if they did so.
This is not the first time this has happened and unless Pakistanis stop celebrating these incidents, it won’t be the last. Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered Governor Salman Taseer, was praised as a great hero right up till and beyond his execution. The mob that killed Mashal Khan received similar adoration and respect from masses of blind citizens.
Actions like these are an affront to the rule of law and the judicial system. If one can afford to break the law knowing he will be respected and admired and considered a hero, then the rule of law deteriorates – why bother following the law then? There’s no point. Similarly, what is the point of a judicial system if a mob of citizens decides what’s right and what’s wrong? We might as well be living in a jungle of anarchy. What gave the murderer the right to decide whether or not his victim was guilty and deserved to die?
Naeem’s alleged proclamation that he was a prophet may suggest he was delusional. Equally, it may suggest he was suffering from schizophrenia or other conditions. But the murderer did not take that into account, while the court likely and hopefully would have and considered giving him treatment. There are numerous anecdotes of similar occurrences happening with schizophrenics who, until receive proper treatment, believe themselves to be prophets or messiahs.
It is high time Pakistanis stop hailing the murderer as a hero and recognize him for what he was. That will be the first step in cultivating an atmosphere wherein potential extrajudicial murderers think twice before breaking the law and imposing their judgements on whether or not a human has the right to live.
Also read: A fascist Punjab