The Nov. 25 verdict of an antiterrorism court in Gilgit-Baltistan is deeply troubling, especially for the lack of outrage over it. The court has convicted Jang Group chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Shaista Lodhi, Veena Malik and Asad Khattak on charges of “blasphemy,” sentenced them to 26 years imprisonment, fined them, and ordered the seizure of their properties and passports. The verdict is unenforceable in Pakistan proper, but it carries the grave threat of vigilante action against the four. Jang has another 75 “blasphemy” cases against it in various courts across Pakistan. The ostensible cause of these troubles is the May 14 transmission of Lodhi’s defunct morning show with Malik and Khattak as guests. The likely real reason is the media group’s airing of accusations against the ISI for allegedly masterminding the April 19 attempt on Jang staple Hamid Mir’s life. The convictions are a travesty of justice and endanger the lives of the four accused. Even Jang’s enemies, and there are plenty, need to recognize this and condemn the verdict with the disdain it deserves.
From our Nov. 29-Dec. 6, 2014, issue.