Having been rebuked by their own government for their inactivity and complicity in the violence of in late July and early August in Gojra, it is obvious that Pakistani police have not only learned nothing but are either deliberately snubbing their noses at their superiors or knew all along the rebukes were intended more for the international audience than the domestic one (I’ll leave it to you to decide which is more likely).
On August 10, the police in Gojra arrested Tariq Mehmood, a Muslim human rights activist who had the courage to expose and criticize the Gojra attacks. He was subsequently charged under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorist Act. That political wrangling is also involved in his arrest is likely, given his position as general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan. But talk about no good deed going unpunished!
Now we learn that police in Gojra have filed reports against 29 Christians and 100 unidentified persons for alleged involvement in the Gojra violence, including Anglican Bishop John Samuel of the Church of Pakistan in Faisalabad. As has been noted by others, it is quite possible the government is planning to use Christian “hostages” as leverage to force Christian leaders into reconciliation agreements that would include dropping charges against Muslims.
Such actions also help authorities to relabel the violence as “communal riots” rather than “attacks” if Christians can be seen to, at the very least, share some of the responsibility. This will assist in undermining the case against those who were truly responsible. As Nadeem F. Paracha, cultural critic and senior columnist for the Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper rightly wrote, however, “A riot is when an agitated group or mass of people clash with the police, or with another mass of agitated men and women. It is not a riot when an agitated group of people attack the homes and lives of men, women and children who are not as well armed as the attacking group, or whose best defense in this respect is to flee the scene.”
Sadly, despite the initial glimmers of hope that some degree of justice might have been pursued by Pakistan’s government on behalf of those whose lives were so brutalized by their own neighbours, it is apparent that authorities in Gojra have no intent in seeing their fellow Muslims in jail merely for attacking Christians, an act that that they obviously continue to see as being justified. Once again, the rule of law fails in Pakistan as those who rule decide that they are not subject to the law but stand above it. Rather than being serving their God-given role as upholders and instruments of justice (Romans 13:1-5), Pakistan’s police in Gojra serving to thwart it.