There is genuine outrage within and on behalf of the Christian community in the aftermath of the Badami Bagh incident, in which a largely Christian neighbourhood was torched by a violent horde. Two days before, a resident was accused of blasphemy by a person with whom he had recently been involved in an altercation. After two days of rumour mongering, the person accused was taken into custody for further investigation. Despite this, a mob of 10,000 odd descended on the area and laid it to ruin, as the 200 riot policemen failed to control the situation. The arson was not only unjustified, but was also totally unnecessary after the person on whom the accusation had been apprehended for investigation. The ulema condemned the attempt to take the law into private hands, and did what they could to calm the situation, Police officials who should have stopped the burning, but who did not were removed.
The case must be dealt with great clarity: by a scrupulous attention to the principle of the rule of law. Not just the writ of the state been violated, but so has the law of the land. The only way to prevent further attempts to take the law into one’s own hands is to punish the perpetrators of this arson. This will only be achieved by ensuring that the law takes its due course.
At a deeper level, the government should remember that minorities have a vote in general constituencies, and that the Badami Bagh incident will be reflected in Christian, indeed, all minority voting patterns countrywide. As the votes most affected will be cast in Lahore, hitherto a PML-N stronghold, the handling of the case will have to be carried out with the utmost sensitivity by the PML-N government, which will have to pay attention not only to a Christian community, some of whose members find their life savings burnt to the ground, but also the country as a whole, despairing of any sense prevailing among any of the 10,000 and others like them, without legal intervention to punish them and make them realise the error of their ways.