A law that lets off murderers on the strength of their wealth is neither religious nor rational
KARACHI: Those who manufactured the killer doctrine of the Houbara as the cornerstone of our foreign policy must be credited for their honesty, if not for their wisdom. Perhaps, it is now for the Interior Ministry to follow suit and declare that just as the royalty from the Gulf states have been allowed to kill our birds, the rich Pakistani ruling elite have apparently been licensed to kill our children. The 20 million guns in the hands of trigger-happy Pakistanis have given birth to a new breed of assassins, consisting of some of the most prominent families of the feudal elite. They use both licensed as well as unlicensed Klashnikovs and pistols to assert their status. They can kill at will and also go scot-free courtesy a legal system that has a special affinity for the rich.
Some Pakistani laws, apparently intended to please the religious right, provide an excellent escape route to those who can pay. These laws add to our religious facade and take away the need to think twice before pressing the trigger. As long as the heirs of the murdered are willing to accept (often under duress) a financial compensation, the killer can walk away with a grin and a victory sign. While it may be personally fine to forgive a murderer (with or without any compensation), the fact remains that every murder is a crime, not just against a victim but also against the state. The most sinister use of such laws has been in honour killing cases where a male member kills a female relative and is then let off by the victim’s heirs. There are provisions of the law that make it almost impossible to prove who committed a murder and are of immense comfort to rich murderers and assassins. These provisions ignore the fact that every murder ought to be treated as a crime against the state. The law that lets off murderers on the strength of their wealth is neither religious nor rational. Will those who sit in parliament be inclined to review such laws?
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.
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