ON Feb. 29 — a bad day for anniversaries — Pakistan executed my father’s killer.
My father was the governor of Punjab Province from 2008 until his death in 2011. At that time, he was defending a Christian woman who had fallen afoul of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are used by the Sunni majority to terrorize the country’s few religious minorities. My father spoke out against the laws, and the judgment of television hosts and clerics fell hard on him.
He became, in the eyes of many, a blasphemer himself. One January afternoon his bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, shot him dead as he was leaving lunch.
Mr. Qadri became a hero in Pakistan. A mosque in Islamabad was named after him. People came to see him in prison to seek his blessings. The course of justice was impeded. The judge who sentenced him to death had to flee the country. I thought my father’s killer would never face justice.
But then, in the past few months, it became possible to see glimmers of a new resolve on the part of the Pakistani state. The Supreme Court upheld Mr. Qadri’s death sentence last October. Earlier this year, the president turned down the convict’s plea for mercy — which, at least as far as the law goes, was Mr. Qadri’s first admission that he had done anything wrong at all. Then on the last day of last month came the news: Pakistan had hanged Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri.
How would the country — not the state, but the people — respond?
I spoke to my sister in Lahore and for a moment we dared to hope that Pakistan, which had suffered so much from Islamic terrorism, might turn a corner. A lot had happened in the five years since Mr. Qadri killed our father. There was attack after hideous attack. In December 2014, terrorists struck a school in Peshawar, killing 132 children.
Was it possible that Pakistan was tired of blood and radicalism? Had people finally begun to realize that those who kill in the name of a higher law end up becoming a law unto themselves? Had the horrors of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria done nothing to dampen enthusiasm for Islamism? Perhaps. I hoped. Read it all here....................