A report compiled by a 13-member joint investigation team (JIT) investigating the lynching of Mashal Khan confirms what most of us already knew; the mob was consciously agitated by a small group of individuals to commit an act of pre-mediated murder, and that there was no evidence of blasphemy in the whole incident. However, what it does reveal is a startling conspiracy involving members of the university faculty and Pakhtun Student’s Federation (PSF) to remove a politically inconvenient individual – Mashal Khan.

The report reaffirms the fact that in the vast majority of cases where blasphemy is claimed, it is a veneer used by people to mask more nefarious plots. The attack on the Ahmedi mosque in Chakwal was as attempt to wrest control of the property, the arson in Gujaranwala was designed to free up land, and the list goes on. The report reaffirms each criticism of the blasphemy law, how it is misused, how it being a law justifies the call to violence, and how it has become a focal point for violent religious forces in the country.

While the report’s solid findings against the main perpetrators should make for solid prosecution cases and heavy sentences, the mob must also be punished. Of the 57 arrested, none must be let go more being a small party to the crime. The government, through the prosecution must make sure that the message is loud and clear, taking the law into your own hands is not allowed, your anger over alleged blasphemy is no excuse. It must be remembered that the mob, after beating the lifeless body of Mashal Khan wanted to burn it – they are responsible too.

However, the real culprit here is the blasphemy narrative, whose unchecked propagation has allowed it to be used so easily used by individuals for their nefarious purposes.