Government Sends a Judge Abroad to Save Him From Extremist Religious Groups

Once again the government has revealed its impotency to fight against growing religious intolerance. The government has also exposed its powerlessness to provide security to its own citizens by sending a judge of the Sessions Court to Saudi Arabiawith his family. This was the judge who awarded the death sentences in two cases to Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of the Punjab Governor, Salaman Taseer. The judge has left forSaudi Arabia along with his family after receiving death threats from extremists.

The death threats have forced Judge Pervez Ali Shah to leave the country along with his family. Judge Pervez Ali, as the Judge of Anti-Terrorist Court, handed down the death sentences to Qadri on October 1, 2011 following a trial that took place behind closed doors in the high-security Adiyala prison inRawalpindi.

Qadri had earlier confessed in court that he had killed Salman Taseer for his blasphemous statements.

The religious groups which included banned militant religious parties, have been pressing the government to remove Judge Mr. Shah from his post. They also announced a head money for the killing of the Judge as they had previously done for the killing of Salman Taseer before his murder.

Besides the religious groups the lawyers, particularly the Rawalpindi Bar Association, also quickly reacted to the decision against the killer and agitated inside and outside the district courts including the High Court of Islamabad, threatening the judges with dire consequences if they did not rescind the death sentences on Qadri.

The government’s indifferent attitude about the death threats from the militant religious groups was evident in the fact that it ordered the deployment of only two policemen to protect the special prosecutor, who is also continuously receiving death threats from the religious parties.

The collapse of the rule of law is exposed by the sending of a judge outside the country by the government itself. The government is sending a clear message to the judiciary that while they can make decisions on merit and the law they should also follow the dictates of the extremist elements. The unspoken message is also clear: that the judiciary can expect no help from the government for carrying out their sworn duty to uphold the laws of the land.

The ongoing policy of appeasement by the government is slowly but very surely destroying any hope of democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan. Prior to the assassinations of the governor ofPunjaband the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs the religious groups announced the head money for the killing of the governor.

By allowing the religious groups a free hand they are strengthening them every day and at the same time weakening their own position by making it clear to all that the laws of the country and the articles of the Constitution do not apply to these extremists. The son of Salman Taseer has now been abducted by an extremist group and the Federal Minister for the Interior has announced that he is alive and being held inWaziristan but the government does not appear to be actively engaged in seeking his safe release.

The question now is: how many citizens and their families, regardless of whether they are judges or not, can the government of Pakistan afford to send to Saudi Arabia?