In the aftermath of Mashal Khan’s brutal murder in Mardan, many arrests have been made, and with investigations going well so far, it is hoped that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Emotions among the public run high, and rightly so, which is why the need for authorities to provide justice remains key. Calls are now being made for the case to be transferred to military courts to quicken the pace of the case. On Tuesday, The Senate Committee on Interior also expressed similar views, and unanimously agreed that Mashal Khan’s lynching case should be forwarded to the military courts for a decisive resolution.
Currently, law enforcement agencies and politicians are hastening to investigate and condemn, but there is no telling if this will be the case when the media hype dies down and the public’s attention gets diverted. The judiciary is limited by the evidence it receives and often gets mired in the specifics of the case, with the final judgement and sentencing in strict accordance with the law. Hanging all those involved for instance, might not be possible under the courts.
In a case such as this, more state action is needed. Given the increase in the number of mob violence cases and the damage they do to any narrative that falls outside of strictly regulated religious norms, an example needs to be set.
The debate on whether or not the military courts should exist is no longer relevant after the two-year extension. The military courts were founded on the principles of safeguarding the judiciary alongside a means to deliver quick and efficient justice. Convicting and sentencing known terrorists is simple, well received by the public and not nearly as controversial as hanging the murderers of an (falsely) alleged blasphemer. Many supporters of the murder are silent right now as a result of the general outcry, but are likely to find their voices once the dust settles and the murderers are closer to conviction. Using the military courts to try and hang the perpetrators might actually work in establishing that vigilante justice and false accusations of blasphemy will not be tolerated.
The attack on Mashal Khan was planned and executed with deadly perfection. Accusing him of blasphemy and taking no legal recourse implies that those involved wanted this case to stay out of the judiciary’s hands, and settled their personal scores against an innocent student knowing full well that their strength in numbers might make it hard for the courts to pinpoint the exact perpetrators. Since the reluctance to face the courts is so obvious, maybe we should grant them their wish. The military courts should be involved in this case, and Mashal Khan and his parents need to get the justice they deserve.