Shot over a game of volleyball

When a party of young boys decide to shoot each other over volleyball, something is seriously wrong with us.

Mahwash Badar October 03, 2011
In January 1998, my family received a slightly incoherent call from an uncle. He didn’t make any sense when he said:
“Bring all the cash you have.”

An hour or two later, those words made sense.

My cousin had been shot in Islamabad by one of his peers and his family needed money urgently to take care of matters. We did not tell his mother what happened but informed her that he had been in a fight and was injured.

He was nineteen-years-old. The boy who shot him was 20.

A court case, countless days of mourning, and many unanswered questions. Now, 13 years later I read about a party of young boys deciding to shoot each other over volleyball.


The first curse that anyone should utter should be directed to the Taliban, who have had a deep impact in this country, beyond just blowing up our markets and our mosques. They haven’t just ruined generations by death; they are promising to ruin more through the thousands of weapons they bring inside the border. In this war, like the Soviet War, arms have become second nature to the people of Pakistan. The violent nature of the insurgency, via the Afghan-Pakistan border, have proliferated gun-use to an extent that when they’re not killing each other, they’re fighting over volleyball with bullets or killing women.

But volleyball?

Sure, the government is contemplating about laws that consider possession of arms as an unbailable offense, but when minors are able to shoot each other, in schools, and give statements where they basically say, “We got in trouble because we got caught”, there’s something much more disturbing than weak legislation.

Social sciences have many volumes published on the theories and questions surrounding aggression and use of weaponry. Man against man, and intelligence stands baffled at the atrocities we can commit over inanities like sports and petty thefts or items as important as dowry and real estate. The ability to harm another human being, another living soul, say literati, snuffs out the humanity in you.

The verdict for the lynching of Mughees and Muneeb may have brought justice to the case, but it doesn’t erase the writing on the wall. It doesn’t eradicate the uncomfortable feeling that rests upon our consciences as a society. How are we letting these cases of violence take place right before our eyes? How are we able to call ourselves civilized people when our children can start shooting at each other at the throw of a ball, or because the daughter-in-law didn’t bring enough money in the dowry?

These bullets aimed at school children by the school children aren’t mad, isolated cases of a sociopath let loose on campus. This is not organized warfare. Last anyone may have checked, Pakistan isn’t a banana republic. We’ve apparently got long and stringent laws on possession of guns, arms, canons even jack-knives.

Then what’s wrong with us?
Mahwash Badar The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (
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