Public outrage at the Zainab incident is understandable. This outrage resulted in authorities picking up pace to find the culprit and bring him before the court of justice. However, the demands for public hanging of the culprit are a cause of concern. Public hangings have become the symbol of oppressive regimes and are a universally considered act of barbarity. The amendment proposed by the Senate Committee for Interior, known as the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018, seeking to punish such criminals with public hangings is highly problematic.

The fact that a segment of the government is proposing against following the judicial injunctions and follows the democratic trial process shows the lack of faith in the legal system to handle such cases. The right course of action in this case would have been to properly legislate for such instances, to ensure that these criminals do not have any political backing and the police force is equipped enough to take on such cases.

Senator Farhatullah Babar rightly pointed out in the session of the National Assembly (NA) that if this amendment is made, the calls for public hangings would not stop. These public hangings are a reminder of the Zia regime, whose legacy we still try to eradicate and do away with. The amendment at this point would just be a way of subsiding the anger of the masses and not actually a way of devising an effective policy to ensure that such instances drop down.

One measure that the government must take is to spread awareness about the issue and not shy away from it. The more people talk about it and the more children are educated about it in schools, the lesser such incidents will occur. Lastly, a safety net must be provided to the citizens to be able to seek help in these cases.