Muhammad Khan, the father of slain Naqeeb Mehsud, was battling two fights. One was seeking justice for his murdered son and his heirs; the other was his own fight against cancer. He lost the latter one yesterday. In former, his probability of winning even after his death is remote. The fact that Rao Anwar is yet to be brought to justice is a clear-cut display of how inefficient our legal system is. Earlier this year, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi had declared Naqeebullah Mehsud innocent and quashed the cases filed against him. Even after the verdict of the said court, the state machinery did not show any urgency in either administering or providing justice to Naqeeb’s family. That the father could not witness justice being done to the killer of his son is a slap on the face of the judiciary. Indeed, justice delayed is justice denied.

Despite the fact that Naqeeb’s case became one where almost the entire nation was unanimously demanding justice for the deceased, lacunae in the country’s criminal justice system break the resilience of even the most determined person. Perhaps, no one else’s words but those of the American writer James Baldwin aptly describe Pakistan’s justice system when he maintained, “if one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected … and listens to their testimony … ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it.”

Furthermore, state’s inability to provide Naqeeb’s family justice will be remembered as a dark chapter in the country’s history. It is the failure of the state and its institutions that Rao Anwar is free. State’s inability to sentence Rao Anwar is nothing but lack of check and balance and accountability. Such a culture, if not changed, will give birth to many more Rao Anwar. In Pakistan, it takes years and decades for a person to seek justice if s/he does not have the backing of the powerful ones. Given the present scheme of things, one cannot but side with those who call the justice system of the country a rotten one. Nevertheless, the death of Mr Khan leaves a lot for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government, that now and then makes lofty claims of providing justice to the victims at their doorstep, for introspection.