On 25th July, Rafiq Sabir entered a Gujarati businessman’s palace-like home in Bombay. Almost sixty minutes after this intrusion, he was led out, handcuffed, by a contingent of policemen. Charge against him was that he had attacked ‘a leader of a religious party for political reasons’. This leader survived the attack and went on to create a country where sixty eight years later ‘another Rafiq Sabir’ attacked ‘a leader of a political party for religious reasons’. The snake was taught another language, the venom was given another color but their effectiveness was undiminished.
Today, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis hold in respect a repulsive constable of Punjab Police. My own house is divided. My parents have asked me time and again to not write anything disparaging about this ‘courageous man’. I would have heeded if there wasn’t a large crowd hundred yards from my house still protesting against the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri. A much smaller crowd gathered weeks ago in America too and they were also protesting against a death sentence. There is nothing uncivil in such protests but if the protestors are trying to glorify a self-confessed murderer, a cold-blooded psychotic fanatic, things do look threatening. These are the people who cheered death of an innocent reformist and destruction of a small Christian family. It’s never enough for them. Should they not be appeased by God’s vengeance which will strike the ‘unlearned’? Should they not calm their hearts by remembering God’s words: “And vengeance is mine, I will repay…”?
Mumtaz Qadri also has something to learn. Martyrs don’t get glory for free; they have to sell their lives for it. And under no conditions they run about town filing appeals against their death sentences. Perhaps, Mr. Qadri has become too accustomed to the attention he is getting in this world that he has forgotten the next (it reminds me of Omar Khayyam’s wonderful couplet:
No doubt there is a heaven yonder too,
But ‘tis so far away- and you are near
Before emptying dozens of bullets into Salman Taseer’s chest, he was fully cognizant of the fact that he was committing a murder and that he would be executed for it. Why then this dilly-dallying, these second-thoughts?
Then there are these liberals who don’t want Mumtaz to be executed. To them, death penalty is as criminal as murder, only that the former is sanctioned by the state; it’s a punishment which leaves no room for reform and gives no value to remorse. Had they realized that they were living in a third world theo-mobocratic state rather than in the civilized West, they would have seen the fallacies in their line of reasoning. A criminal who shows no remorse can’t be reformed. It’s almost always the court verdict which awakens a convict from his delirium and if he is unable to show remorse then, one can rest assured he would never. Expecting remorse from a deluded Mumtaz Qadri is like expecting remorse from Hitler. Their crimes weren’t the result of personal animosity with their victims-they were caused by deep personal convictions. We can’t even expect that Qadri would reform himself, for what would reformation mean to him? To the religious crowd, he sits at the pinnacle of chivalry, selflessness and courage. Where do you go from the pinnacle? For me, the only non-repulsive thing that Mumtaz Qadri can become is a dead man.
If people like Mumtaz Qadri keep rising up in our society we must realize that it’s time for some introspection. Bigoted mobs, men suffering from Jerusalem syndrome and faux-liberals can’t be waited out. They have to be dealt with severely and their identities be thrown into the dark parts of history. Before reading the sentence to Jinnah’s assassin, Justice Blagden made remarks which have something for everybody: (To make it more relevant I have replaced the word ‘political’ with ‘religious’ wherever it appeared)
“No country can be happy and prosperous which condones murder for ‘religious’ purposes or for any other purpose. The only result of condoning a ‘religious’ murder is to substitute rule of hooligans for the rule of reason…….You and misguided people like you have to be taught fact by punishment and the example of punishment……”
Jinnah might have won against Rafiq Sabir but he lost against history. Intentionally or unintentionally, he gave birth to the very society he was fighting against. It’s a society where even a brave judge has to vindicate his position by prefacing his verdict with an apologetic statement: “A proven blasphemer is wajib-ul-qatal (liable to be killed). He cannot be forgiven. Only the Holy Prophet (PUBH) himself can forgive him.”
How far have we come? Perhaps, hate does beget hate. We are children of hate.