Mohammad Bilal Khan, a known blogger with noticeable social media presence, has been murdered in cold blood in country’s capital Islamabad. There are no ifs and buts that this is highly condemnable despite some people now trying to undermine the heinous crime of his murder by posting what kind of person he was and what kind of work he did.
The blogger who was posting on yesterday’s India VS Pakistan cricket match up until 20-something hours ago is now a heavily controversial subject to be discussed on the social media — with one side labelling him to be an anti-military activist while the other one rightly pointing out his Islamist credentials.
Let’s get one thing straight, Bilal was no freedom of speech hero. In fact, he was advocating for a tighter blasphemy bill after the Prime Minister Imran Khan was once again accused of insulting religious personalities. He also called controversial and outlawed terrorists from organisations such as Sipah Sahabah Pakistan (SSP) as martyrs. But in one of his last tweets, he was seen sarcastically commenting about the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s top intelligence agency.
His criticism of the military and prominent politicians is now being discussed as the possible reason behind his murder. Was it his tweet about the ISI chief? Or, was it someone trying to silence criticism against the Prime Minister? Or both? These questions need to be answered as the investigation into his murder moves forward.
His murderers have to be brought to justice which we know won’t happened if this was the doing of those who must not be named. In any case, this is a stark reminder of country’s deteriorating freedom of expression and shrinking space for journalists and bloggers to say what they want to say. This is especially true if one doesn’t have the safety net of right privileges and connections in the higher-ups to fall back on. We’ve all seen foul-mouthed military brats getting away with virtually everything, haven’t we? Bilal, unfortunately, wasn’t lucky.