The mob is out, fists clenched, voices screeching into the night, ready to tear down anything in its way with a zealous anger. The vigilante slips out into the night, enemy to both his foe and the law, his own life meaningless, compared to the call of his noble cause. But what cause? Surely there must be some great oppression to fight against, a brutal regime, an invading army, a global catastrophe? For Pakistan this great oppression is a 9 year old girl, a village washerwoman, and a mentally unstable 70-year old.

Mohammad Yousuf, a member of the Elite Force of police commandos, sneaked a gun inside the notorious Adaliya Jail, by ingeniously hiding it in his socks. He then proceeded to walk inside the cell of a Christian pastor and human rights worker, Zafar Bhatti, who had been accused of blasphemy, and Muhammad Asghar, a 70 year old schizophrenic, convicted of blasphemy, and shot the first dead and gravely injured the second.

For a moment, let’s set aside the monolithic injustice that is this flawed law, it seems beyond our control now, and focus on what we can control. How did this happen? How can someone sneak a weapon inside one of Pakistan’s most heavily guarded jailhouses and kill someone within? A simple pat down administered by the laziest of constables could have revealed the gun. Does no one do that anymore? Is there no security check in these jails? Or was the staff complicit in this? Did they let him go, perhaps egged him on with a few choice verses? Imagine if Zafar Bhatti had been a politician with a large support base, or an enemy spy, or an important witness; imagine the uproar, the information lost. Fortunately for the police, Mr Zafar Bhatti was just another man accused of blasphemy.

The only rationale of this law that isn’t totally flawed is that it takes the issue out of the mob’s hands and puts it into a legal system where it can be dealt with in a logical and non-violent way. But if we can’t even guarantee that, what is the point of our legal system? You can perhaps forgive the lone constable in a two-room police station, in some remote corner of this country, when the mob charges and he steps aside and lets them kill and maim to their hearts desire. But in Rawalpindi? An urban centre with an extensive police support structure, inside a jailhouse with ample back up? There can be no excuses. This is either gross incompetence or complicity in murder; in both cases, who will be answerable to Bhatti’s family and the law?