The human rights activists have expressed their apprehensions regarding the trend of mob violence and extra-judicial killings in the name of religion as evidenced in the lynching of Waris outside a police station in Nankana Sahib over the purported accusation involving desecration of the Holy Quran.
They have urged the government to take steps to stop the misuse of blasphemy laws, protect the victims against mob violence, and enforce the existing provisions to punish all those who attack police station, and indulge in false accusations, and resort to violence.
The Chairperson of Voice for Justice Joseph Jansen said that it is sad that announcements from mosques are made to rally people using the lethal charge of blasphemy as means, and the mob is provoked for causing violence in the name of religion without inquiring whether the accused has committed any act of blasphemy intentionally or unintentionally.
Joseph Jansen observed that Pakistan received 15 recommendations from countries in the 3rd cycle while 12 recommendations in the 4th cycle of its Universal Periodic Review urging Pakistani authorities to take serious legal and administrative measures to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws, it is the time that government must give heed to the actionable recommendations, and take effective action to establish the writ of the government, and uphold rule of law.
The human rights activist Ashkinaz Khokhar said that it is sad that people take the law into their own hands to deliver ‘mob justice’, which is an indication that they have lost trust in the police and judiciary. He added that at least 90 persons have been extra-judicially killed and lynched on the pretext of blasphemy accusations, the government needs to introduce legal and administrative safeguards to stop the trend of mob justice, and take steps to develop a law-abiding and tolerant society.
Ashkinaz Khokhar said that the government must make public all the inquiries conducted in cases involving violence including; Shanti Nagar (1997), and take effective measures in the light of recommendations made in inquiries including; Gojra (2009).
Ilyas Samuel lamented that the deceased, Waris was recently released from jail in a blasphemy case registered in 2019, and was declared innocent by the court of law. But police officers failed to protect the life of an innocent person in the Warburton police station in Nankana Sahib, and failed to prevent the mob from causing degrading treatment to the blasphemy accused, which brings the role of the law enforcement agencies under question.
Ilyas Samuel said that the timely action by law enforcement in cases involving blasphemy accusations can help prevent mob violence and save lives, which is only possible if the police dispense its responsibility of maintaining law and order, and protecting the accused from extra-judicial killings.
Nadia Stephen noted that the violence in the name of religion is increasing due to a lack of the government’s capacity to de-radicalize citizens, a lack of political will to introduce substantial reforms in laws dealing with offenses relating to defamation of religion and take serious action against the elements involved. She added that Pakistani citizens must avoid engaging in violent acts on the provocation by actors involved in promoting a narrative, which is dangerous to the social cohesion among different groups in Pakistan.