How did so many Pakistanis become bloodthirsty vigilantes?

Source: Dawn

How did so many Pakistanis become bloodthirsty vigilantes? Evening TV talk shows — at least those I have either seen or participated in — circle around two basic explanations.

One, favoured by the liberal-minded, blames the blasphemy law and implicitly demands its repeal (an explicit call would endanger one’s life). The other, voiced by the religiously orthodox, says vigilantism occurs only because our courts act too slowly against accused blasphemers.

Both claims are not just wrong, they are farcical. Subsequent to Khan’s killing, at least two other incidents show that gut reactions — not what some law says — is really what counts. In one, three armed burqa-clad sisters shot dead a man near Sialkot who had been accused of committing blasphemy 13 years ago. In the other, a visibly mentally ill man in Chitral uttered remarks inside a mosque and escaped lynching only upon the imam’s intervention. The mob subsequently burned the imam’s car. Heiliger Schauer!


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