How can one explain the lynching of two teenage brothers in broad daylight by a mob, while policemen stood on the sidelines watching the violent scene in a village near Sialkot? I don’t have the stomach to watch the violent scenes on TV, and am at a loss for words to express the anguish over such acts, many of which go unreported since the eye of the camera cannot reach each and every victim.
This is not the first time that innocent individuals have been targeted in such a brutal way in which tens and even hundreds of good Pakistanis, and this time, in the holy month of Ramazan have mercilessly ended two lives. It was not long ago that two Christian boys accused of blasphemy in yet another industrial city, Faisalabad, were gunned down by a fanatic while in police custody and on their way to court to clear their name.
How many times a month do we hear about the murder of helpless young girls, mothers, sisters, and quite often wives to avenge honour? Crazy men driven by crazy ideas of honour hack women to death and walk around the earth tall with pride. What an uncivilised idea of restoring a family’s honour it is. The killers in such incidents are not always illiterate. We have seen educated and well-placed families killing their women in order to restore their lost honour. How many of us remember the murder of a young lady doctor by such a family in Multan some years back? It is not a question of short-term memory; we have become numb from witnessing so much violence in our society.
The incidents of honour killings are largely underreported. I am familiar with many such murders from southern Punjab where wailing mothers over the honour killing of their daughters would be brutally hushed up, not even allowed to grieve and mourn the slaughter of their daughters, sometimes in front of their eyes.
The recent incident is not much different from the emerging pattern of violence in Pakistani society where men in the street have assumed the rule of judge, jury and executioner. But it is unique in at least two respects. First, policemen were present on the scene, doing nothing. Reportedly, the mob kept torturing the boys for hours. It seems nobody showed any mercy, not even the policemen. If they felt intimidated by the crowd, they could have called in more police personnel to intervene and saved the two men. But saving lives was not on the minds of anyone among this violent Sialkot crowd.
I am sure that there is good in every society and I keep searching for whatever good is there among us, but events like the gunning down of the Christians, lynching children in Sialkot or butchering women tells us that something has gone fundamentally wrong. We have seen yet another pattern of violence; young men on suicide missions exploding themselves in markets and mosques. Is it lack of faith in the police and administration of justice that people take law into their hands? I don’t mean to be self-disparaging, but it seems we have lost our values, if we ever had them in the first place. In the present social chaos, our society has lost its humanity in allowing lives to be terminated in their prime by violent mobs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2010.
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