ISLAMABAD: Calling for federal action against vigilantism, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Ghulam Mustafa Shah on Saturday urged Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal to bring the rising issue of mob lynching to the attention of the federal cabinet.

The call for action came during the budget debate following the minister’s remarks about the recent Swat incident.

On June 20, Mohammad Suleman, a resident of Sialkot, was lynched by a mob inside the Madyan police station in Swat. He had been detained for alleged desecration of the holy Quran.

The mob not only killed Suleman but also set his body, the police station and an official vehicle on fire.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Ahsan Iqbal emphasised the international backlash Pakistan would face due to this incident.

Ahsan Iqbal calls for setting up special committee to propose strategy to enforce rule of law

“India has picked up the news and is maligning Pakistan,” Mr Iqbal said. He mentioned that similar incidents had occurred in Sialkot, Jaranwala, Sargodha and Ichra, reflecting a disturbing pattern.

The minister recounted his own experience with vigilante justice when a religious extremist attempted to assassinate him, leaving him with a bullet permanently lodged in his body.

He condemned the societal decline where basic constitutional principles and laws were ignored in favour of “street justice” and “mob lynching”.

“We must take notice of this incident. The society has declined to levels where we are flagrantly violating the Constitution, the law and the state,” he said.

Mr Iqbal stressed that Islam discouraged desecration of corpses, even of infidels/heretics, yet burning people alive was becoming a public spectacle.

“Anarchy will ruin everything if such incidents are not controlled,” he warned, advocating for the formation of a special parliamentary committee to review these incidents and propose a national strategy to enforce the rule of law.

In response, Deputy Speaker Shah expressed his dismay at the minister’s apparent helplessness. He directed him to address the issue with his colleagues in the federal cabinet to devise an effective strategy.

The recent incidents of mob violence and the ensuing political and public outcry highlighted a critical need for a cohesive national approach to uphold the rule of law and protect citizens from vigilantism, he added.

Meanwhile, former senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also voiced his concerns over the rising incidents of mob violence.

“We are so engrossed in political infighting that we have lost sight of where our society is headed. In this month alone, two people have lost their lives over unproven allegations of blasphemy,” Mr Khokhar said.

He urged all mainstream political parties to take action, emphasising that silence was not an option.

Mustafa Khokhar called on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police to take strict measures against those who took the law into their own hands, noting that innocent lives and government property were at stake.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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