At what point is a man guilty of murder? If a man announces that he will commit a murder, must we wait for his victim to die before we act? Surely we have the right to defend ourselves against such criminals. What if the man is hiring a killer to murder his prey? Again must we wait for the loss of life before we can put a stop to the crime? Surely not. And yet this is exactly what we are witnessing today while Yousaf Qureshi walks free in the streets of Peshawar.
There should be no leniency for those who will commit murder. But it is not just the man who pulls the trigger that is responsible. Also, there may be some who encouraged or facilitated the act. These also share guilt and should be punished accordingly. Just as any common conspirator who hires a killer to do his dirty work, Yousaf Qureshi has publicly offered to pay Rs.500,000 to the killer of Asia Bibi. He should be arrested and tried for his crime immediately.
Adil Najam explains the situation perfectly at Pakistaniat blog:
It should not matter what you think of Asiya Bibi, or about what should happen to her, or of the Blasphemy law, or indeed of Masjid Mahabat Khan. What matters is that murder is a crime. Inciting others to commit this crime is a crime. Paying or promising to pay others to commit this crime is a crime.
This here is not a matter of theology, it is a matter of the law. And not a matter of constitutional law, but of criminal law. This is a test of our society’s appetite for tolerating criminality in the name of morality. But more than that it is a test of our polity’s ability to implement its own laws. Can the government of the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province, sitting in Islamabad, or the government of Pakistan, sitting in Islamabad, ignore this blatant and so very public disregard of the laws of the country? And if they do, what does it say about them, about their own disregard for the most fundamental laws of the land, about our society, and indeed about us?
Are we a nation of laws? Or are we a nation of outlaws? How we treat the case of Yousaf Qureshi has a lot to say about the answer.