With all the talk of justice and law prevailing in our political environment today, it would do good to turn our eye to one of the most tragic cases which darken Pakistan’s history. It seems that Mashal’s case might be lost to the same loophole that every criminal case in Pakistan succumbs to-of pressure and blackmail.

Reports indicate that Iqbal, Mashal’s father is being pressured by religious and political leaders to accept a deal and excuse the accused. To put added pressure, the religious and spiritual leaders of Mardan established two jirgas to arrange a meeting with Iqbal and his relatives. What these jirgas are doing by pressurizing Iqbal is trying to put on a veneer of law and order over what is simply blackmail and coercion. So far Iqbal has not relented and calls for speedy justice for his son’s murder.

These tactics come as a result of the crackdown by the anti-terrorism court (ATC) at Abbottabad, which indicted fifty-seven suspects and also rejected the bail pleas of seventeen suspects. So far, the judiciary has responded well to this controversy, with Chief Justice, Saqib Nisar taking suo moto notice of the case and the Court allowing the case to be transferred from Mardan to Abottabad for the safety of Mashal’s family.

However, the real test for the state is now, where it must act swiftly to put an end to the pressure tactics against Mashal’s family. The urgent step for the Court to do in this case would be to effectively end the possibility of the accused to avail the Qisas and Diyat option by name the State as the complainant.

The Qisas and Diyat was progressive legislation in Islamic law; however, this law has been terribly abused in the Pakistan legal system. Blackmail and threats often compel the complainant to give in, as in the Raymond Davis Case and in the murder of Shahbaz Khan. This law has also been horribly exploited by honor crime culprits.

Section 311 of the Pakistan Penal Code empowers the court to convict a person, even if compromise took place in it, under the principle of fasad-fil-arz (mischief on earth); this the State does by naming itself complainant. The state must make itself a complaint in the case to make sure prosecution goes through even if the pressure tactics succeed.

Mashal’s father says that if he doesn’t take a stand here, there will be many more Mashals. Iqbal is being brave. The real question is, will the State?