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Pak minister condemns Swat lynching, says religion being weaponised to justify ‘street justice’


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday condemned the lynching of a man in the town of Swat for allegedly committing desecration of the Quran, lamenting how religion is being weaponised to justify “street justice” and “vigilantism”. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, while speaking during the budget debate in the National Assembly, said that Parliament had to take stern notice of “mob justice“, as it had brought Pakistan “to the brink of destruction”, the Dawn newspaper reported.
On Thursday night, an enraged mob in the picturesque Pakistani town of Swat gunned down a tourist, dragged him through the town and later hanged him in full public view for allegedly committing desecration of the Quran.
Muhammad Ismail, a 40-year-old resident of Sialkot in Punjab province, was visiting the northwestern Pakistan hill resort town of Swat and was accused of having burnt the pages of Islam’s holy book in Madyan tehsil of Swat district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Amid interruptions by Deputy Speaker Ghulam Mustafa Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Iqbal said, “Another mob lynching has happened in Swat and Pakistan is under scrutiny for it.”
The 65-year-old secretary general of the PML-N further said that if this was an isolated incident “we could move past it”. However, Iqbal then referred to similar incidents that happened earlier in Sialkot, Jaranwala and Sargodha where those accused of desecration were lynched by vigilante mobs.
The minister also recalled an attempt on his life in 2018 when he was shot by a supporter of the religio-political party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan. Iqbal said he was grateful that he got a new lease of life after an extremist shot him.
“We must take notice of this incident as our nation is on the brink. We have now reached a point where we are using religion to justify mob violence and street justice, flagrantly violating the Constitution, the law and the state,” Iqbal said.
In Islam “even the bodies of heretics must be shown respect”, he said.
“Not only are mobs killing people, but they are setting the bodies on fire and making a spectacle out of it. It’s shameful,” he said.
Iqbal also demanded that a committee be formed to probe these incidents of mob attacks.

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