Why Not Free Qadri?

By Ayesha Siddiqa for The Express Tribune

How about freeing Mumtaz Qadri for the simple reason that the state system has lost the capacity to execute punishment? The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) judge, who gave him the death sentence, is already on the run. It will be quite a cost to protect Justice Shah and his family or other judges that may be brave enough not to overturn the ATC’s decision.

Why bother with the idea of punishing Qadri when it is no longer in the realm of the possible. An olive branch that is offered to the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan and other killers can be extended to Qadri as well. Not to forget that the political leadership in the form of the recent All Parties Conference has surrendered to a peculiar agenda. So, forget about Jinnah’s August 11 speech now as the state has already transformed to a hybrid-theocracy. It has small liberal spaces, equally smaller spaces where Sharia is formally implemented, and larger spaces where the orthodox law is informally enforced. Try standing in front of a Jamaat-i-Islami/Jamaatud Dawa procession in support of Qadri to feel the melting away of the state and its changed character. Sadly, many of our post-modernists scholars will, yet again, call this as part of the secularising process through bringing religion into public sphere. Driven by personal ambitions to establish their scholarship, they won’t even question that the current discourse is not secularising as it condemns all other arguments as being against Islam. Are the protesters even willing to explore other religious arguments that may not save Qadri from the sentence given by the ATC judge?

There are no governments that are willing to stand up to the bullying and to establish the writ of the state. There is no intent to even deradicalise society because, in the words of a senior bureaucrat of the Punjab government, reputed to be close to the chief minister, there is no radicalisation in Punjab and even if there were, why should the state become an ideological warrior. Obviously, this CSS-qualified babu considered deradicalisation as anti-religion or against the tenets of Islam. This bureaucrat was a good example to debunk the argument that radicalisation results from lack of education. Here was a case of a literate man not willing to understand that deradicalisation is about creating sufficient space for all religions and sects to co-exist without fear of persecution, and increasing the state’s capacity to provide justice for all, irrespective of their cast, creed and religion. Thus, he presented the Punjab government’s development priorities as devoid of the goal of deradicalisation.

It was almost unbelievable to think that the bureaucrat’s plan had the sanction of his political bosses, especially someone like Mian Nawaz Sharif who made some bold pronouncements of building ties with regional neighbours and condemned parties with militant wings. Notwithstanding the goodness of Mian Sahib’s heart, one wonders how familiar is he with his own party’s support of militant outfits and if he considers this linkage equally condemnable? The fact of the matter is that no political party can claim to be above board as far as rising radicalism is concerned. The absence of the state in most provinces — Balochistan where people are being picked up and killed, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where the provincial government has willingly opted to share space with certain types of militants, Sindh, which is devastated by floods and a government that is almost invisible and Punjab where the government opts to burn down state infrastructure — is visible. Therefore, it is not surprising to see militant outfits becoming the new arbiters even replacing the old feudal class. They have and will exercise greater influence on the electoral process, especially ensuring that no parliamentarian challenges the writ of these militant outfits.

The militants of today are the new feudal lords that will adjudicate and dispense justice not on the basis of any higher religious law but their personal bias for things which are superficially religious. These people, who hold jirgas and dispense justice, are not fully aware or trained to interpret religious text or other sources. Surely, memorising the Holy Book cannot be the sole criterion. For those who believe that voting another party into power will solve the problem of radicalism, they will be disappointed to know that religious radicalism is the only game in town. It is now time to think of ways to grapple with the new reality.

  1. Qadri’s sentence by his judge: Firstly I was surprised to hear a death sentence and that too so quick. I had remarked that I am more concerned for the life of this judge than death to Qadri.

    As far as I can see, it will be more unlikely than likely to give death sentence to this living martyr. Thanks to the present day hardcore Islamists who see no humanity in inhumanity. It is highly unfortunate. I equally worried about Ayesha also. When will she be targeted by these barbaric war mongers.

    • Yes, barbarians is the correct term for them indeed. As soon as there is fear among the judiciary, there will be no more rule of law or a state. Sadly it seems like we are already there….

  2. Western press described double death sentence by the court to Qadri. What did the judge exactly mean by that “double death sentence”? Can you kindly enlighten me on it?

  3. I have read and refered to Ayesha earlier. She is quite open against such social malaise in Pakistan. I hope that she has enough security. I felt very sad for Shahbaz Bhatti recently. Perusing his story, I felt that some high powered authority must have been involved in that. Not for a wish but a fear lurks in my mind about the future of Pakistan. Because any danger to Pakistani state will destabilise the entire South Asian belt. This will not be good for the region.

    • I agree w you. I hope she stays safe. We can not afford to lose any more voices of moderation in Pakistan to these barbarian extremists!

      • The problem today is that immorality has been vindicated as morality and vice versa. This has allowed the official state machinery to go wild. It is same in Pakistan as well as USA, difference is that US is super power. Pakistani establishments since independence has been spoiled by these super powers and now these myopic Pak leaders are making its people pay for their sins. It has further led into more sins. That is where my worry for sane voices come from.

  1. October 9th, 2011
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