Anti-Terrorism Court has set a huge precedent for punishment in cases of acid attacks. In September this year, a 24 years old woman became a victim of an acid attack in Lahore. The accused was her own ex-fiancee, who out of anger for calling off the engagement, decided that the right decision in the situation was to throw acid on her. This resulted in Beenish Sharif losing her eyes and face, while Asmatullah conveniently ran away from the city to Bhakkar.

He not only threw acid on her but was able to get Rs500,000 out of the family on the promise that he would buy a house for their daughter and himself. However, he could not remain hidden for long and police caught him in Bhakkar. The court has announced 60 years of imprisonment for Asmatullah, along with a fine of Rs3.9 million. The court handed him two-times 25-year imprisonment under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and Section 324 and Section 336/B of Pakistan Penal Code , 1860.

Acid attacks have been very casually happening in Pakistan, and the need to address them was absent until Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy brought the issue to the limelight. It is so easy for people to take lives into their own hands and not understand the consequences of their actions. The absence of laws catering to acid attacks in Pakistani jurisprudence has somewhat accommodated and also helped the accused in getting away with lesser punishments. This time around, the story is a bit different and Judge Sajjad Ahmad should be commended for that. This will set a precedent of people considering the consequences of their actions and also being afraid of the law of the land.

While this decision is being commended, the government should take a step further and consider keeping checks and balances on the sales of acid. That is the intelligent way forward, if we want to prevent attacks.