Violence, mores and morals

Published: March 10, 2012

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“I relayed the news on to colleagues and students at the cafeteria table. Some looked glumly at their plates but, a minute or two later, normal cheerful chatter resumed.” So wrote friend Pervez Hoodbhoy in this newspaper on March 5, in an op-ed titled “Run for your life”.

What was the news? That those men, who claim to be good Muslims, of the terrorist outfit Jundullah, had on February 28 executed 18 men, who had been cruelly dragged off a bus in Kohistan after being singled out because of their sect.

That such incidents rouse no ire, nor disgust, nor even interest, in the supposedly-educated youth of this country, should make us pause and think. So embedded is violence in the national psyche, including that of whatever leadership it is the country’s fate to bear. The leadership itself is so disinterested in mass or individual killings, by Muslims of Muslims, that it barely comments on Kohistan-type happenings. It takes all in its stride, whilst happily marching to its own brass band, blatantly consolidating its power base and cramming its well-lined pockets with lavish pickings from the national exchequer and what is left of the nation’s assets. It is not concerned with the slaying of its citizens by its citizens, so why should the rest react any differently?

Well they should, but by many a strange, unhealthy quirk it has become fully acceptable for Muslim to slay Muslim — all in the name of a misguided interpretation of faith — as acceptable as it apparently is in this odd, hard country for Muslims to take the lives of those they consider to be non-Muslims, rendered so by law or by actual fact.

Kohistan-type murders — as with past sectarian murders — trigger no official or public outcry, or public demonstrations of anger. Burning tyres, flags and effigies is fine, as is official indignation when it comes to Salala or the drone attacks. Something is very wrong and is growing worse by the day, as neither our leadership, nor those who apply the education system consider it to be a national trait in need of urgent attention. As long as religion intrudes into matters of state, Pakistan is doomed. It has closed the door firmly on its Founder’s dictum : “Religion has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

A day prior to the Kohistan murders, Pakistan came up trumps on the other side of the world. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy walked off with an Oscar for her documentary film “Saving Face”. What was the subject of this award-winning film? Why, violence of course, as perpetrated in the Islamic Republic. The custom of disfiguring women in revenge for some perceived slight by throwing acid in their faces. Thousands worldwide, who would otherwise have been unaware of this national practice, will have seen the film. What would have been their reaction? So, now we have even more black marks against habits prevalent in this violence-prone land.

And such happenings are far from isolated. Many more acid-throwing incidents surely take place than are actually reported. The latest reported incident came from Sahiwal. On March 6 — less than 10 days after the Oscar ceremony — a man attacked a 20-year-old girl, chucking acid on her face, merely because she had ‘resisted his advances’.

This government to its credit has come up with legislation meant to protect women, but legislation alone can do nothing unless the national mindset is radically adjusted. Legislation is good and laudable, but rather like court orders. Courts can order away, but cannot enforce their orders. And parliament may legislate, but it is helpless when it comes to applying the law.

On March 3, we had another incident involving the attitude to women when in Muzaffargarh district, following an inter-family feud, a mob stripped naked one woman and proudly marched her around the village. Such are the mores and morals of the average Pakistani male of this nation of 180 million.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • John B
    Mar 10, 2012 - 12:42AM

    During Nazi era, in Auschwitz concentrations camps the Germans were happily burning the women and children and Young and old Jews. The camp was located within a stone’s throw distance of the nearby village, and the smell of burning flesh would have been unbearable.

    When the camp was liberated by US soldiers, they brought the local villagers to see the camp and open pit mass graves. The villagers lined up in queue to see the cruelty, as if they were watching circus side show, and no one shed a tear. When asked if they knew what was happening in the camp, they all claimed they did not know.

    The villagers lost their sense of smell and happily ate their meals while humans were burning right under their table.


  • Mirza
    Mar 10, 2012 - 12:45AM

    A very thoughtful and timely Op Ed, thanks. The problem of Muslim on Muslim violence is some do not think the other sect is Muslim! In their minds (to use the term loosley) these fanatic extremists are waging a Jihad against the other sects who are not true Muslims. By blowing up Data Sahib, or other Sufi tombs or by killing Shias they are implementing their dreams. If one is not Whabi or Salafi, he/she is liable for murder. This sickness must be controlled before it engulfs all the country.


  • MarkH
    Mar 10, 2012 - 1:09AM

    What is the acid used for that so many people just seem to have it laying around to throw at women on a moments notice? Why not put some restrictions on that than things that actually don’t harm anyone. I know whatever people claim to use acid for has alternatives because I’ve never, a day in my life, ever needed to stock acid to live.


  • alamgir
    Mar 10, 2012 - 2:27AM

    We should stop attacking fellow Muslims and concentrate on jihad against al-Hanood.


  • Mr. Righty rightist
    Mar 10, 2012 - 7:02AM

    Why is Islam called as the religion of peace?

    There’s more violence committed in the name of Islam than all other religions combined. Muslims, if accounted for all the history will have ten times more blood in their hands than the Nazis.

    Even Gujrath riots were a result of the violence from Muslims! That too in a Muslim minority country!

    So, why is Islam called as the religion of peace?


  • Mar 10, 2012 - 1:11PM

    Violence of Muslims against Muslims will continue unabated as our society has dehumanized. Killing of a human according to Islam is like killing humanity, the so called champions of bringing religion into politics claim that Islam is a religion of peace. However, the outcome of this experiment is just the opposite. I remember that during the clean up operation in Sindh “Karachi”, which set a record number of people ” thousands” killed in extra judicial killings, the well educated people used to discus this sad and tragic event by asking each other, what is the score today. Not a score of one day or twenty twenty cricket but of innocent people killed simply because they demanded basic human rights. No political or religious party raised a voice against this carnage. This was the beginning of dehumanization process which has now gone out of control, as it is carried out in the name of faith “Voltaire”.Recommend

  • Shugulo
    Mar 10, 2012 - 2:16PM

    Ofcourse islam always preahes of peace and tranquality.Unfortunately,majority of Muslims and Non-Muslims have always understood Islam from narrow minded and so-called Mullahs.What we should do is to consult about the real image of Islam from our Holy Prophet(PBUH) and its Holy Family.These are the sources of Islam through which we can eliminate all misconceptions regarding Din Nab Muhammadi.But what Mullahs have today is American Islam,because they are acting as par their political interests in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan.The word “Jihad”is a sacred tool in Islam but have been used in differents interests of America.Definitely a strange individula may perceive Islam as a violent Relegion but the reality is different.So please consult about Islam from sayings and actions of Holy Prophet(PBUH) and His Holy Family.


  • Ak
    Mar 10, 2012 - 2:32PM

    Absolutely agree with the author. As John B above pointed out, this is not specific to a religion. It is all driven by extremist ideology – religious or otherwise. Take for example India’s Naxalites, they are no less cruel than Pakistani though they are driven by godless communist ideology. Similarly most communist regimes in the cold war era were brutally repressive. Violence was perpetrated in the name of class struggle.

    Unfortunately what worries me is that people in power and many amongst well healed section in Pakistan don’t seem to realize the danger of using extremists as ‘assets’. They just don’t realise the dangers of a radicalised and an unjust and violent society. One just has to read about nazism to see what human society can degenerate into as John B above is pointing out. I just hope and pray that better sense will prevail before its too late for the society and the country to put any sort of defense against these murderers.


  • RH
    Mar 10, 2012 - 4:35PM

    @Mr. Righty rightist: “Muslims, if accounted for all the history will have ten times more blood in their hands than the Nazis.” The Nazis only existed for a few years whereas Islam has been around for over 1400…so a comparison like that does not even make sense. Besides, the Nazis were firmly part of ‘Western Christian civilisation’ so why not compare that in its entirety against Islam? If you did so, you would find that Muslims come out far better. But of course, you’re not really interested in history, just in spreading hate against Muslims. Having said that, it is evident that your opinion is biased towards recent history where that there is a perception of Muslims being more violent than others. I say perception because ‘Western civilisation’ has proved equally adept at butchering civilians in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. However, how does that justify the Gujarat riots? You’re saying violence by a few members of a group justifies mass killing of innocent people from that group? Recommend

  • Mar 10, 2012 - 6:39PM

    Muslims killing Muslims is not new, it all started soon after the demise of Prophet SAWW when corrupt people started using outward pity and religious symbols to loot, kill and occupy lands. Lets be honest Muslim history has nothing in it to be proud off, it is all bloodshed and intolerance. When Yazid martyred Imam Hussain, it was perfectly accepted by majority of Muslims.


  • Sultan
    Mar 10, 2012 - 9:11PM

    @Mr. Righty rightist:

    There has been no incident comparable to Gujarat in Pakistan. 200,000 displaced with
    perhaps 100,000 never able to go back and the administration refusing to do anything
    to restore their losses. Thousands killed over days with no one to blame and no
    official being held accountable.

    This is comparable to what the Nazis did, and you falsely blame the victims for it.

    The number of murders committed in the name of Christianity far exceed those committed
    in the name of Islam, the number committed in the name of false gods of nation and ideology
    are even more.


  • Sultan
    Mar 10, 2012 - 9:13PM

    @John B:

    As Heine said, those who burn books (the Quran in the case of Heine’s Germany) will burn people next.


  • Mar 11, 2012 - 1:48AM

    Might is right.
    Unless there was some sort of cultural, religious, moral, ethical values reform and promotion and development to go with it, this has become the inevitable conclusion. Like as if the shaky anti-Indian foundation and continuous warring, undermined civil democratic principles, corruption, ignorance, ethnic/religious bigotry, misogyny and injustices up to the 70’s were not enough, it got compounded by the ideological Wahhabification of Pak in the 80’s, mixed with guns and all. Ever since the Taseer assassination aftermath, cannot say that extremism is relegated to only a ‘few fringe groups’ any more.

    It’s a munafiq republic. A zalim republic. Anything but Islamic or humane. Nothing resembling a normal civilized republic…


  • Sundeep
    Mar 11, 2012 - 5:42PM


    You seem to forget of Pakistan in 1971. There were reports of 3 million killed and 300000 raped. I don’t want to further delve and humiliate you. What of Balochistan?


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