Much has been written and said about the sordid lynching of Muneeb and Mughees Butt in Sialkot. There are many among us who have been rightly anguished, some have said that a part of them and their humanity died when they saw the footage. Some have said that the mob that was watching the violence, without stopping those mercilessly beating the two boys to death, is precisely reflective of what Pakistan today has become — a society desensitised to even the most extreme forms of violence. Many, including senior state functionaries, have voiced the opinion that perhaps the best form of justice would be to — once the guilty have been convicted of the crime — deal with them in the same manner as they did with the two boys. In fact, the sentiment on the incident has been running so high that many people have been calling for such an action.
What we need to ask ourselves is that if we really want the culprits to be punished in a similar manner, to be beaten with sticks till their heads burst open and a veritable fountain of blood gushes out, till they are dead, and then their dead lifeless bodies hung upside down, then are we any different from the lynch mob? Is the answer to such a gruesome collective act another gruesome act, and this time with state sanction? Perhaps those who stood by and did nothing, are as a columnist said on these pages the other day, “human cockroaches”, or perhaps, as said another, they thought that this was the only way that they could see justice being given in the society that they lived in. Of course, there can be any number of theories and hypotheses and probably psychiatrists and those with similar training can delve into such questions better —however, the point being made is that we should know that what happened was essentially an act of the worst form of dehumanisation since the incident was bereft of all the characteristics and traits associated with humanity. So, if we want to consider ourselves human we should lay to rest any notions of an eye for eye, and let the rule of law prevail.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2010.
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