Reacting to the graphic videos of a Sri Lankan man being killed and his body being set on fire over allegations of blasphemy in Sialkot, rights activists have blamed the government’s policies of appeasing extremist groups for a rise in incidents of religiously motivated violence.
Human Rights activist Jibran Nasir suggested that today’s incident was a consequence of the state’s appeasement of the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP).
Amnesty International also expressed concern over the incident and asked for an immediate inquiry.
One enraged citizen wrote that police did not interfere because the last time they did, eight of them were killed, a reference to the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) protest last month.
Another Twitter user said that people are being burned alive in the country while the prime minister wants the harmful impacts of the western culture researched.
Another social media user reminded of the case where two brothers were killed by a mob in Sialkot 11 years ago and how they had never got justice which emboldens extremists.
One netizen questioned who should be blamed for this incident? “just maybe, state bowing down to extremists every time & weaponising blasphemy for its own interests for decades?”
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also condemned the incident and said that mob violence cannot be accepted.
Govt’s history of capitulating to lynch mobs
Last month, the government had signed a deal with the religious right-wing TLP to end a week’s long protest that jammed many cities of Punjab and resulted in the death of several policemen. The government, instead of pursuing cases against those involved in the violence, made a secret deal with the TLP as a result of which all cases against the party activist involved in the killing of policemen and destruction of property were withdrawn.
At the time many analysts said that the government’s move to appease the extremist party would worsen the security situation in the county and lead to a rise in faith-based violence.
Security analyst Zahid Hussain wrote, “The PTI government’s policies of appeasement have increased militant threats to the country with very serious consequences for Pakistan’s security and stability”.
After the government signed the deal with the TLP, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Punjab President Senator Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhary visited Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’s headquarters in Lahore to meet the outfit’s chief Saad Rizvi and presented him with flowers.
Earlier, Sheikh Rasheed, interior minister, at the time of TLP’s 2017 protest warned the PML-N government to withdraw the provision of the law against which the TLP was protesting or there would be widespread violence.
Even Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was in opposition at the time, had extended support to the TLP during the Faizabad dharna, saying that PTI workers wanted to join the protest. He added, “The government has no idea what would have happened if this matter had escalated; they should thank the army for stepping in and diffusing the situation”.
Analysts say politicians’ use of religion card and the state’s policy to patronise extremist groups gives rise to mob violence.