This was the tweet of Raza Rumi after two gunmen barged into the office of Rashid Rehman, Junaid Hafeez’s attorney and shot him at point blank range!
Raza Rumi is naturally gutted, having left Pakistan on account of insecurity. He can feel the pinch, as he himself fortuitously escaped an attack carried out by demented personnel of the same mentality.
A bit of background of the deceased who laid his life advocating equal human rights for all.
Rehman had the courage to take up the case of Junaid Hafeez, a visiting proffessor of english literature at Bahahudin Zikkariya university, who was rotting in jail for the last few months for allegedly using blasphemous remarks on facebook by the right winged Jamiat student Union at BZU. As with such cases he was unfortunate to hire an attorney since no one was willing to fight his case.
In the very first hearing (which strangely took place inside the prison, most probably due to sensitivity of the case) Rashid Rehman received death threats from the plaintiff’s attorney in front of the Judge. Rashid officially lodged a grievance about the insecurity he felt post such threats but to no avail.
Rashid Rehman, a seasoned human rights advocate, would not have pursued the case if he had known that there was substantial proof against the defendant.
Once again the million dollar question that where is the cogent proof? begs its answer since the unfortunate incidents of Asia Bibi and Rimsha Masih just to name a few.
I guess the rule of thumb in Pakistan suggests that in cases of blasphemy proof doesnot matter, only hearsay is enough to smear or convict some one. Take the example of un wanton arson and looting of valuables in Farooqi Girls High School on alleged charges of blasphemy on the owners. How convenient?
The net result is that the toll taken by innocent people dragged into blasphemy cases is rising with every passing incident. Today Pakistan is a country with the highest number of people on death row or doing time for committing blasphemy.
On the contrary the proof of harassment and death threats received to Rashid Rehman can somewhat be deduced from the following statements:
The tragedy in this case is that the murder of a Relentless human rights activists could not garner much attention or airtime on electronic media. May be as a nation we are either pusillanimous or just indifferent. All we get from media is the trivial debate over non issues and politicians jockeying for power.
Every time an unfortunate incident of such nature befalls, the liberal optimists fill social media space by heaping anathema over dictator Zia Ul Haq for reinforcing the law; thinking it would suffice in spurring change but the inaction on part of all pillars of state, fails to break the stalemate. At times such sensitive situations even exacerbate matters a few notches.
I can recall Salman Taseer being shot by the delirious Mumatz Qadri; years later we see a mosque being named after the killer. To boot, there is a library in Pakistan that is named after the Infamous Osama Bin Laden. Wow, we are making some progress.
I for one find uncanny similarity between Rashid Rehman and Shahid Azmi, an indian advocate who got shot in the similar fashion. both to me were epitomes of courage, valour and change.
I am Rashid Rehman, as i reckon i am as insecure as he was in a free country. If the current narrative prevails then i fear that every child born in the country would call himself Rashid Rehman. The only positive assumption in my argument is that i wish no child is born as the one who took the life of the innocent advocate.
As i ardently believe that ‘killing an innocent person is the gravest form of blasphemy’.
RIP rule of law!!