The rate at which violence is spreading in our society is truly alarming. On the afternoon of October 17, hundreds witnessed an incident on Lahore’s busy Jail Road, on the pedestrian bridge located outside the city’s prestigious Kinnaird College, where a young man pumped five bullets into a second year student from the institute and then shot himself dead. The killer, Shams Alam, was 23; the victim, Samar Wasti was 19. Two young lives have ended tragically, leaving many students at the college which has closed for a day, traumatised.
The incident, we are told, took place after Alam, who had known Samar since school, was turned down when he proposed marriage. This it seems is becoming unacceptable for more and more men in the country; some have hurled acid on young women who refused them or extracted vengeance in some other terrible fashion. We have asked before. We ask once again — what is happening to our society? What are we coming to; why has life lost all worth? Other such acts take place too. This one has gained headlines chiefly because it involved a student from a leading college, who died so dramatically and so needlessly, even as she complained over her cell phone to her father about being harassed by Alam.
There is another issue here that needs to be looked into. There are far too many guns in our society and far too many in the wrong hands. We wonder how a 23-year-old gained access to a pistol. Pakistan, according to international monitoring groups, has one of the largest number of small arms in circulation anywhere in the world. This contributes to the high rate of murder, to the growing acceptance of brutality and the dramatically enacted tragedy in Lahore which took two lives within minutes, with hatred replacing what may have been an ill-conceived notion of love on the part of a young man who had succumbed to the violent trends that have already wrecked far too many lives.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2011.