A man accused of blasphemy was killed in court during his trial proceedings.
Tahir Ahmed Nasim was shot dead during his trial for blasphemy in Peshawar when Khalid Khan calmly walked up to the defendant, shooting him six times in front of shocked onlookers, before being overpowered by security.
Mr Nasim was on trial after being arrested for blasphemy when a video of him claiming to be a prophet was put onto social media that then went viral.
Khalid Khan who claimed to have had a vision of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a dream, said Muhammad asked him to kill Tahir Nasim and was given the gun by Tauqeer Zia, a lawyer, who managed to smuggle the gun through court security because, as a lawyer, was not subject to security checks.
Saif ul Malook, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan said that the judiciary was responsible for the protection of the defendant being under judicial custody and said “How shameful it is, that a person who was under the judicial custody, was facing bullets within the courtroom and the custodian judge of the case fled away,” and stated the judge has now become a reluctant witness.
“Ironically, none of the three higher authorities of Pakistan; Government, Establishment and Judiciary have condemned this extrajudicial killing,” Mr Malook went on to say.
Around 70 people accused of blasphemy have been victims of violence from extremists in Pakistan over recent years. People have been lynched by angry mobs even in broad daylight with police officers sometimes joining in. Very few perpetrators are ever prosecuted even though Pakistan claims to a pluralist secular society. Pluralism, however, has been overshadowed by the rapid spread of radicalisation.
The dilemma for Pakistan is that people who carry out attacks on individuals accused of blasphemy, are glorified, considered heroes and are often given the nickname of ‘ghazi’ or ‘lions’ for being dedicated devotees of the prophet Muhammad.
Khalid Khan was also considered a hero and had people, including police officers, scrambling to take selfies with him during his trial.
It is a grim reality that Pakistan has always been gripped by left wing activists across all sectors of Pakistan society allowing blasphemy to become an undebatable issue.
“If you dare to question blasphemy law, radical Islamists will make it a religious issue and you will become vulnerable,” said, Zohra Yousuf, Vice President Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Adding that, “since it is the matter of religion and Prophet, incumbents are also reluctant to offer an amendment in the law.”
Before blasphemy laws in Pakistan were intensified in 1986 by the then president, General Zia ul Haque there were only seven cases of blasphemy which has since risen to thousands and today, Pakistan has become the most determined anti-blasphemy state in the world.