In a karmic turn of events, the pop-star turned preacher, Junaid Jamshed, who became notorious recently for cheerfully propagating misogyny, was accused of committing blasphemy in the course of another misogynist tirade on national television. Despite his tearful apology, the mob is out for blood in the wake of which even his mentor, Maulana Tariq Jamil, head of the Tableegi Jamaat, has distanced himself from Junaid.

This case has a different dimension, one that might be able to blunt the ire of this law where many others have failed. Junaid Jamshaid’s alleged blasphemous statements and apology are a matter of public record, as opposed to other instances. Invariably, in every scenario, the accusation is proof itself, leaving the accused with few chances for a fair trial. And since the law is framed as “whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles...” anything can come under the all-encompassing definition. Vague laws are not uncommon, and the court, through judgements in various cases, continually defines and delimitates the meanings of operative words, to the extent that many laws are found in past judgments, not statutes. Yet, the blasphemy blanket has even smothered this. Due to Mr. Jamshed’s comments already being in the public domain, perhaps for the first time the court can actually debate what blasphemy is. Considering the case is filed in Karachi, with a relatively liberal bench, this is a real possibility. The question is not whether or not Mr. Jamshed should have been booked for blasphemy at all. That is a flawed intellectual debate. The real question is, now that blasphemy charges have been brought before the public for the first time in Pakistan’s skewed legal history, how can good precedents be set? How can the law evolve itself to ultimate extinction?

The lower courts will however, still quiver at the thought of questioning the evidence presented. The real terror of this law is not the death penalty but the years spent on death row and misplaced vigilante justice. Even if the lower courts start disregarding accusations based on a possibly restricted definition, the problem remains: it can never deliver justice by order of its own nature. The only solution ultimately is the repeal of the law. There is no justice, not even of the poetic variety, that the blasphemy law can serve to the conservatives or liberals of our society.