As soon as the three-member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar had ordered the acquittal and immediate release of Asia Bibi, the religious elements came out to the streets across the country. The protests are emotional. For some, the acquittal of Asia Bibi is perfect opportunity to gain a political mileage from. As the next few days will be challenging for the government to deal with the protestors, it is also true that these next few days will determine the future shape of the Pakistani society.

In these hard times, when the society is bitterly polarised across religious lines, the fierce urgency of now demands from opposition to support the government in overcoming the pressure of those who are protesting against Asia Bibi’s acquittal. Parties like Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) need to stand on the right side of the history. Both parties need to display political maturity. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairperson of PPP, has already made a responsible statement urging the National Assembly and other institutions to back the SCP. All other institutions throwing their weight behind the SCP will be crucial for establishing the writ of the state, which is often at times compromised by violent protests and angry mobs.

It is to comment with a heavy heart that in our society people try to exploit religion for securing their narrow interests.

What is concerning is that people in the country give their opinion as an authority on religion and think it fit to demand extreme action against people to maintain the sanctity of Islam – a belief system that preaches peace and tolerance.

The apex court has already played its part in defeating the culture of mob inquisition by ordering the release of Asia Bibi who has suffered enormously for almost nine years. However, the real test for Pakistan’s judiciary, government, military, bureaucracy, police – in short for everyone– is ensuring the safety of judiciary, Asia Bibi and her family. Furthermore, the protests will test whether the state, its institutions, and civil society stand united against the injustice that the protestors want to inflict upon the acquitted Asia Bibi. If the state successfully overcomes the opposition to the verdict, we can hope for a society that will successfully implement the law and authority of the state.