Cruelty in death

Published: August 2, 2010

The terrible story of the treatment meted out to Prem Chand, a victim of the Airblue plane crash, in the hours after his tragic death is enough to cause each and every one of us to, at the very least, hang our heads in shame. The young man, a member of the youth parliament, had the term ‘kafir’ or ‘infidel’ written out in bold strokes of a marker as it lay at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences awaiting collection by his devastated family. We do not know why the word was put there; indeed why anything at all beyond the name of the victim was written on the casket.

But whatever the reasons the act of cruelly singling out one victim of the crash from others, belies the mindset which has insidiously overtaken more and more people in the country and refuses to allow them to accept the notion that in most aspects of daily life – and indeed in death – religious belief should play no part. Lives after all have equal value; the tears of Prem Chand’s relatives are no different to those of Muslims killed in the disaster, their grief as deep.

There is some slight hope to be gleaned from the actions of other youth parliamentarians who wiped the word off the coffin before the family could see it. The matter was also brought up at the youth parliament session. In the actions of these young people – who have not lost touch with basic humanity and decency – there may be hope for the future. But the problem is that their numbers are limited. Too many in society have learned blind hate. It is not easy to strip them of these feelings – nurtured at schools, at mosques and by sections of the media. Their influence has made life a living hell for most non-Muslims. Since the 1980s thousands of minorities have fled the country. We should think about why a nation created to house a minority has been so unjust to those who live within its boundaries and why this sense of hatred has grown to the proportions we see today. For what its worth, Prem Chand is a far more patriotic Pakistani than those who have tried to label him in this grotesque fashion after his death.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Abdul Khan
    Aug 3, 2010 - 5:46AM

    This type behavior is why Pakistan is at a standstill, or rather going backwards. If the west did this to Muslims, the same people would be protesting. Some people in Pakistan think they and their religion is the the only correct faith. I ask those same people, if Pakistan is so great, why are people there starving and not building anything. This individual Prem Chand perished and it his choice regarding the religion he observed in life. He will be judged in the afterlife. It is not any man’s place to make that decision.

    The true atheist is the one who disgraced Prem Chand’s coffin. Just for relevance, I am a Muslim and am disgusted by this act.Recommend

  • Hassan Javed Warraich
    Aug 3, 2010 - 8:58AM

    Thats so stupid and lame. thats what Islam is teaching us ? it teaches us to be kind to every human, and thats what happened. if it really happened , then those one or two people who did it are bringing a bad name to all of us. Recommend

  • Sharif Lone
    Aug 3, 2010 - 11:55AM

    Well written piece. there is one one word for this act: Shameful. We see how Muslims are so sensitive in the west when any remark is considered for Islam hatred. I hear you cannot build churches and mandars in Muslim countries generally, but insist that mosques are allowed in west. This is all a part of the conservative logic in Muslim world. Not surprising, then, that in recent months around a hundred priests have been deported from Morocco for preaching Christianity. The Christians, mostly from the United States and Europe, have been accused of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, a crime punishable by imprisonment under Moroccan law, which protects the freedom to practice one’s faith but forbids any attempt to convert others. Rules against proselytizing are quite common in Muslim countries. So it appears we are happy to convert others but we insist that this is a one way street. Recommend

  • Atta
    Aug 4, 2010 - 1:58AM

    It is so shamefull by any standard of humanity.Recommend

  • Abhishek Kumar
    Aug 5, 2010 - 1:08PM

    It is a tragedy that once part of a great tradition, this modern Country has come to this. A final solution to this problem has to be found.Recommend

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