The man who murdered the governor of Punjab in Kohsar market, Islamabad in 2011 met his end in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi on February 29, 2016. His execution had been widely expected and social media prior to the event were a-buzz with those who supported the hanging and those who did not. This newspaper has consistently argued from its inception that capital punishment solves nothing and has never been a deterrent, and in a country where mistakes are far from uncommon within the justice system, this is sufficient reason to find some verdicts at the very least doubtful. The use of capital punishment under such circumstances becomes a travesty. However, although we oppose capital punishment, we equally advocate the rule of law. And although we disagree with the legislation that sentenced Qadri to hang, at the same time we support the fact that the government has resisted intense pressure from the religious right to either grant Qadri a reprieve or even pardon him altogether. President Mamnoon Hussain refused clemency and the execution went ahead. Protests swiftly followed, though at the time of writing, the country is far from being ‘paralysed’ as many on the right wished and expected. It may be that March 1, the day of Qadri’s funeral, will see a greater volume on the streets.
Governor Taseer was killed in the mistaken belief strongly held by Qadri that he had in some way committed a blasphemous act by the mere consideration of the blasphemy laws being in need of overhaul. He has been supported by some, not least by lawyers who showered him with rose petals on one of his appearances for judicial remand. The calls by religious groups that those who sought the execution of Qadri should themselves be executed have found no public resonance. Indeed, outside the purlieus of extremism and rabble-rousing street action, there has been little by way of organised or sustained support for Qadri. That in itself may prove to be one of the few positives to emerge from this sad affair. A line has been drawn and, for the Taseer family perhaps, just perhaps, an iota of closure.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2016.