It would be incorrect and perhaps unfair to suggest that honour killings occur solely due to laws, which allow family members to forgive the culprits in exchange for blood money. However, it would be a greater error to claim that such laws that are derived from religion have no role in propagating violence against women as well as men and children and do not actively hinder accountability, which is necessary to curtail crimes of all natures. From high-profile cases such as the Raymond Davis case to incidents that occur in remote villages and urban centers of Pakistan, these laws have allowed aggressors to walk scot-free and those who were actually at the receiving end of their actions were helpless to do anything owing to their inability to rise from the dead. A grieving family is not the direct victim. It shouldn’t have the right to forgive a crime committed against another individual regardless of how close or sincere the relationship. Any society that is not severely lagging behind in evolution would find such a practice unpalatable. Of course, the clergy and other seemingly enlightened sections of our society take a different position on the matter.

In any case, the Punjab government is attempting to introduce amendments, making honour killing a non-compoundable offence. This would allow the state to prosecute and punish persons involved in honour killing, no matter what the stance of the victim’s family. Expectedly, such an amendment, which is exactly what is needed to end impunity for murderers, is likely to be opposed by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and other religious circles. The CII’s recent contributions to jurisprudence entail opposition to DNA testing in rape cases, to old age homes, to amendments in marriage laws and of course, direct support for child marriage and thus, rape. It also happens to be responsible for making honour killings a compoundable offence in the first place. And still, the state continues to look towards this outdated body with dubious constitutional validity comprising of members of questionable reasoning faculties to advise on how we should deal with the mess they are partially responsible for. The entire Parliament may stand on one side of the issue, but it’s undone by the disapproval from a few members of the CII, who are as political as everyone else. Yet again, futile attempts will be made to reconcile two contradictory versions of law, in order to make them relevant and relatively acceptable in current practice. When in fact, there ought to be no ambiguity over what course of action should be taken; the one that doesn’t favour murderers over the slain. It is hoped that the Punjab government will pass necessary laws despite mindless reservations of the CII and others of its ilk.