On Monday an All Parties Conference (APC) met in Mardan to overview the lynching of Mashal Khan and expressed dissatisfaction over the police investigation into the murder case. Normally, a gathering of political parties putting pressure on law enforcement to do more is a good thing, especially in a sensitive and controversial case such as this. However, this APC has other items on the agenda, and its pressure should be closely monitored by us, and discarded by law enforcement entirely.

For one, it blames the Mardan police for standing by and letting the crime happen, the APC believes that police could not carry out impartial investigation into the matter because it had become a party in the case. While police inaction may well have contributed to the incident – and we have certainly seen cases of police inaction before – it does not disqualify them from investigating and charging the primary perpetrators; which are the students and certain university employees. If an investigation is to be carried out into police negligence, it can be done so separately using a police department from another district, while not hindering the present investigation.

The reason this ‘concern’ by the APC seems disingenuous is because its other demands puts hurdles in the case’s way, and a separate political agenda becomes a part through their speeches. The APC wants the students that have been arrested to be released and university administration made part of the official investigation team. None of this makes sense – already three students have confessed to the crime in front of relevant authority and based on the strength of those confessions, over 36 students and a few university employees have been taken into custody. Every day, more video evidence is surfacing that is strengthening the police’s case. Considering this, why should the police release the students, and involve an institution that is implicit in the crime into the investigations?

Could it be that a thorough investigation is not the priority of the APC? It seems so. Dominated by the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and held under the auspices of Muttahida Deeni Mahaz (MDM) the speakers present spent the majority of their time warning against amendments to blasphemy laws, saying such attempts would not be tolerated. It is odd to see an APC convened to monitor the investigation into a lynching over blasphemy to use language such as “warning” and “will not be tolerated” – essentially using the same notions that the lynch mob used. But considering the membership of the APC, we shouldn’t be surprised.