Religious intolerance remains as rampant as it ever was in Pakistan, with another member of the Ahmadiyya community murdered in Nawabshah, and a man sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy in Lahore after charges levied against him in 2008. Violence against the Ahmadiyya community can be traced back to the Punjab riots in 1953, when an ulema delegation approached the government to remove Muhammad Zafarullah Khan from the foreign ministry because he was Ahmadi, as well as removing all other Ahmadis from government positions and declaring the Ahmadi sect non-muslim.

The government’s subsequent compliance to the last demand in the 70’s was a disastrous attempt at defining religion, and coupled with the constant failure to protect minority rights, it makes them complicit in every crime of religious intolerance to this day. The executive branch of the government fails every time an individual is murdered, while the judiciary’s consistent failure to bring the perpetrators to justice ensures that they have the opportunity to propagate their views. The legislature’s part in allowing the blasphemy law to exist and take precedence over humanitarian laws all but ensures that minority groups will never get the rights they deserve.

Most media houses have neglected to mention that Zulfikar Ali, the man convicted for committing blasphemy, was deemed insane after psychological evaluations. The antiquated nature of our legal system exposes itself best when judgments are being handed out against the mentally disabled. Even if Zulfikar Ali’s case is thrown out of court after an appeal is made to a higher court, this sentence will irrevocably change the life of the victim. His life will remain under constant threat from those looking to implement their own version of vigilante justice in a country that has repeatedly failed to bring such criminals to account.

Unless society realises that somebody’s right to life and liberty is more valuable than their own right to religious sentiment, we are no better than the enemy we are fighting in North Waziristan. It is the greatest irony, and the greatest tragedy of our time, that so many fail to understand this.