One had hoped that the Mufti Abdul Qavi saga would come to a close with his arrest and remand to police custody, but it seems that the cleric has other ideas. After leading the police on a dramatic chase through Multan – having fled the courtroom by hoodwinking the judge hours earlier– the otherwise healthy cleric developed a case of mysterious chest pains, forcing the authorities to admit him to a hospital in the city.

While the authorities, and indeed the whole country, patiently waits for a confirmed medical report on the cleric’s condition – it has been reported that he has been given a clean bill of health – it should be easy for us to recognize what is at play. Even outside legal circles, the use of health based humanitarian grounds to get out of a cold hard cell is a trick that is infamous. The most prominent user of this trick remains the former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf.    

While the court’s ability and prerogative to grant humanitarian relief to a defendant during trial is necessary and well-intentioned power, it has been abused countless times over in this country. Any arrested accused with a medical condition can claim that he needs professional attention and can easily leave the jailhouse for a relatively plush hospital bed, and in the most perverse scenario; to a foreign country.

Mufti Qavi’s attempt to play the same trick seems all the more glaring because of his undignified attempt at escape just hours earlier – and its success, despite being so transparent in its purpose, is all the more infuriating.

It is hoped that when if the cleric’s medical reports come back clean he is shunted back to the cell he tried to escape. Beyond that, it is time that the legal system looks over its “humanitarian grounds” – which have aided more criminals to escape, than given relief to deserving people.