It was only last year, in December, that Shahzeb Khan was gunned down by Shahrukh Jatoi. Jatoi escaped to Dubai two days after killing the young man. What followed was emphatic social media campaigns by thousands of outraged Pakistanis throughout the country as well as abroad, who demanded that Jatoi be swiftly brought to justice. From January up till June this year, there was promise in the air; Jatoi had been shifted to Central Jail, the incident of his unlawful fleeing had been brought up in court, his friends at the scene were demanded to appear before law as well. Shahzeb’s supporters had hope, and it was growing.

That growing faith in the full force of the law being applied came to a rather unexpected and disappointing halt when Shahzeb Khan’s parents filed an application in a court that entailed forgiveness for the murderers. Under Diyat, blood money in Arabic, a financial compensation is offered to the heirs of the victim in return for a pardon. It is nothing new; numerous cases of murder and assault have been forgiven by relatives of the victim under the case of Diyat. It is under Qisas – retaliation – that sentences are given once the verdict arrives.

Shahzeb’s case is not an exception in Pakistan; many lose their life to petty feuds. Privileged members of society walk free and fearlessly after committing violation after violation of basic civil rights. His case, however, garnered support from all walks of life mainly due to the fact that he had intended to protect his sister from the harassment she had received from Jatoi’s friend’s servant, Ghulam Murtaza Lashari. It was in the gallantry of his act of defence that Shahzeb won hearts all over the country.

With images of Jatoi grinning triumphantly after his sudden acquittal, societal confidence in the country’s courts falters tremendously. Regardless of what Shahzeb’s parents considered while opting for Diyat, the discontent remains that justice has not been delivered. Once again, it is proven that money talks. Not only does money talk, it flashes a victory sign after walking away from murder.