The Kot Radha Krishan lynching in 2014 left a mark on the nation’s psyche – as it should have. The horrific incident of torture and murder against a Christian couple was made worse by the fact that it was instigated by a local prayer leader over the mosque loudspeaker and carried out by a mob in hundreds while the police and bystanders stood powerless. No amount of retroactive action can undo the damage done, nor can it truly atone for the loss of the young couple’s life, but at least the court can hand out retributive justice, and they have done so.

An antiterrorism court on Wednesday awarded the death penalty to five convicts, including the prayer leader, for their involvement in the lynching. The court also sentenced eight other suspects to two years in jail – presumably those who aided in the act. In very rare cases does the death penalty seem like a suitable punishment, but here it was well and truly merited. The court has given a strong conviction and the collateral message should be clear; misusing the blasphemy law to justify violence will be severely punished.

While we appreciate the conviction handed down by the court it must also be remembered that 93 other suspects – including Yousaf Gujjar, the owner of the kiln – were acquitted as charges were not established against them. Some of this must surely be down to the difficulty of gathering sufficient evidence in a case of such magnitude and complexity, but in a case of such significance, an exemplary judgement that punishes all involved would have set a stronger precedent.

This judgement closes a shameful chapter in Pakistan’s history, but the struggle against injustice and minority discrimination continues. The police officers who shirked their duty to protect the common man to better protect their own skins and join the spectacle still need to be held accountable; this act would not have been possible without the negligence of the authorities.

Avenging Samah and Shehzad Maish isn’t enough, we must prevent future deaths. The root cause of the problem, the blasphemy laws, are still in place in their nefarious form, as is a politico-religious complex designed to protect them. Prayer leaders like Kot Radha Krishan’s are not born in isolation but are created by years of exposure to a toxic, hateful narrative, and encouraged by political parties and legal groups whose sole purpose is to seek out and punish incidents of alleged ‘blasphemy’. Until they are dismantled, we can expect more incidents like Kot Radha Krishan.