Stop wasting time discussing a tattoo

Published: December 17, 2012
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at

If Pakistanis are good at anything, it is forgetting the core of a problem and going in pursuit of the frivolous. The recent case of this inanity followed after the weekend attack on Peshawar airport and the PAF airbase adjoining it.

The attack on the airport killed around ten people, including five of the attackers, and wounded dozens. It should have forced us to rethink the possibility of coming up with the alternative counterterrorism, counter-insurgency and intelligence strategies because the ones that are at present in operation are clearly not working.

One would have thought, or rather hoped, that the politicians, policymakers and defence strategists would sit down and try to come up with a long-lasting effective solution but no tragedy in this country is big enough to make us do that. However, a tattoo on the body of one of the slain terrorists has made every politically religious-minded person come out in defence of the TTP (which has already claimed the responsibility for the attack). It clearly indicates that our priority lies not in making the country secure for its citizens but in coming up with excuses that Muslims cannot kill Muslims and in justifying that members of the TTP cannot sport tattoos of fantasy and erotica genres.

From Mufti Naeem of Karachi’s Jamia Binoria to Professor Khursheed Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami to Tahir Ashrafi of the Pakistan Ulema Council, everyone has come out and said that a practising Muslim cannot have such demonic images on his body.

Their argument is fallacious and we know that Muslims kill Muslims all the time; they did that during the Iran-Iraq War, they have been at it since the Soviets left Afghanistan and they are doing it every day in Pakistan. Muslims can and do have tattoos — and with a 97 per cent Muslim population, the tattoo business is on the rise in Pakistan’s big cities. One must ask these gentlemen about the non-practising Muslims or those who probably dabbled in Goth rock previously and then were recruited by the Taliban. We know that nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

This is not the first time we have deviated from what is important and focused on the peripheral. The current adviser to the prime minister on interior has likened attackers in the past — in the case of the PAF Mehran Base — to characters out of Star Wars. Most of us joked about Darth Vader attacking the base but let us pause and pontificate about the feelings of the families of those who perished in the attacks and had to listen to supposedly responsible officials making a mockery of their loss by giving such statements.

Parliamentarians in the Punjab assembly do not care about going after the religious extremists and terrorists present in the province, instead preferring to go after tax-paying cellular companies, their customers and their late-night telephone habits. If our parliamentarians cannot discern between the importance of a few hundred thousand teenagers indulging in late-night romance and terrorists involved in heinous sectarian killings and suicide bombings, then they perhaps should not be sitting in the august assemblies lording over our fates.

Tattoos on the bodies of terrorists, late-night phone packages and Dilip Kumar’s 90th birthday are not our concerns; the security of citizens and creating an environment that encourages healthy economic activity are. It is about time we focus on the fundamentals and ignore the frivolous.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • F Vihari
    Dec 17, 2012 - 10:51PM

    and another one… funny how much time is being spent on trying to divert our attention from the real faces of TTP and those behind it. Why?


  • Liberal
    Dec 17, 2012 - 10:58PM

    There is a Chinese proverb ., know ur enemy .. If u going to label every1 as Taliban because TTP claimed responsibility .. Then u will be fighting with every1 and weakening the country .. Tattoo thing is very serious issue .. If we think that this is religious war and Taliban want to impose shariah on us then we must think and revisit out policy on WOT.. This war is not all abt shariahRecommend

  • Adil
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:04PM

    So here is a taliban fighter carrying out demonic (or ‘satanic’) acts such as killing the innocent and has a body tattoo identifying him with the demon yet still there are some who refuse to believe that these Taliban rats are anything other than satanic.


  • gp65
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:22PM

    @Author: Thank you for saying what you did about the tattoos. The issue isn’t whether TTP are true Muslim or not. The issue is that why are doing is despicable,

    I am surprised that you had to go as far as Iran Iraq to fnd examples of Muslims killing Muslims. Just yesteday was Bangladesh independence day. Did you not think of March 1971 as an example of Muslims killing Muslims? What about the Hazara Shias being picked off buses, identified and then killed? What about the attacks on Moharram procession? What about Karachi target killing?


  • NoOne
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:31PM

    Cogent thought for those who understand. Tattoo on the back of the terrorist may be frivolous but cuts on the bodies of Shia victims of Babu Sar, Sakardu, Hazara, Karachi etc, speaks louder & louder & louder. They are mourners of the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and what a confusion exists among the minds of the ordinary Muslims in Pakistan while Mullah is making money by selling Islam & motherland by rendering the services as described in the article.


  • Yoghurt lover
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:42PM

    Are you kidding me author?

    Pakistanis have discussed more frivolous matters like the status of circumcision on dead terrorists.

    I want to believe that except for Pakistanis, no one else (on the face of this earth) would even conduct such superficial inspections of the genitals of the dead terrorists.

    I am 100% sure that no police officer ever conducted an inspection of the genitalia of 9 slain terrorists in Mumbai attacks and it was left for postmortem by a trained doctor. And to top it all, claimed anything, like Pakistanis (laal topi wallah mascarrah) do.

    I am sorry to say…yours is a great country with 180 million shameless people.


  • jacob
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:49PM

    we have to understand that TTP is not just a single terrorist organization they are greatly divided among themselves some violence-makers use TTP name . well there is no doubt that they are bad people but i dont agree with you that the common feeling among people is that a muslims cant have tattoos so these people are not TTP(which means we agree TTP is a muslim-terrorist organisation), but the common feeling among people is TTP is not fighting for muslims because muslims cant kill muslims .


  • zeeshan sheikh
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Why suddenly having massive articles trying to divert attention from tattoo revealing US terrorist activities. oh wait! nevermind.


  • Yoghurt lover
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:53PM

    By the way, just to give you a perspective, I am a circumcised, atheist, Hindu.

    How am I both atheist and a Hindu? Culturally, I am a Hindu and religiously, I simply don’t pray.

    Now, if I am dead, would you call me a muslim/jew based on how my genitalia looks like?


  • zeeshan sheikh
    Dec 17, 2012 - 11:54PM

    If there were no tattoo articles would be flooding labeling Islam as extremist ideology. but this time it is proved USA is the real terrorist. and ET is confused what to say


  • appalled
    Dec 18, 2012 - 12:00AM

    It’s funny how easily u are dismissing things like these as mundane…. tattoes of the sort and celebrating Dilip Kumar’s birthday are two entirely different issues…
    collecting such ‘circumstantial’ evidence would have helped any other nation…with the good-for-nothing ‘security’ providers that we have at the top of the affairs, yet another clue will be ignored after a bit of public speculation and frenzy….if clues such as these would have been found on terrorists attacking some other country, there would have been some progress in locating them, finding their roots etc…..but alas!!


  • SoniaK
    Dec 18, 2012 - 12:14AM

    Would be really interested in how many Muslim terrorists go for depressing satanic tattoos and how many of the 97% Muslims would have had that sort of knowledge about tattoos some 10-12 years back(as per the dating of the tattoo)!!! That would be the year 2000 or 2002!


  • appalled
    Dec 18, 2012 - 12:23AM

    circumcision is something so deeply religious, it is hard to ignore its absence on the torso of someone who has apparently died in the name of his religion….!!
    all i am saying is, there are clues in things like these….. these things help i identifying the enemy…. i am not saying these clues are conclusive, but clues they are, neverthelesss!!!


  • Mubasher
    Dec 18, 2012 - 1:50AM

    Symbolism has a profound place in Christianity, Judaism and among goths. The writer should consult some literature to understand about these tattoos. In Camden town in London a huge community of goths lives who worship satan and the same tatto is also tattooed on their bodies.


  • something true
    Dec 18, 2012 - 1:53AM

    youghurt lover: get a life. No one is intersted in your lonely life. why cant we just admit that the all muslims in the tribal areas are ok and the real enemy is the foreigns with tattoos. is it that difficult to understand?. if TTP means that you want the foreigners out of the country and implement sharia in the country you have to fight let saý 95% of the public in pakistan. everyone want this to be implemented no matter who do it.


  • sattar rind
    Dec 18, 2012 - 1:56AM

    than what to discuss everything has lost its important … as no one taking notice of anything. neither the government has any concern with the public nor the public is in position to do sonething for their betterment. thus disscussing unimprtant issue is seems only way out for us ….


  • Arifq
    Dec 18, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Spin masters at work but the facts are undeniable i.e., group of heavily armed people attacked Pakistani installations with the intent to kill and be killed. As per press reports, TTP has claimed responsibility for this like many other attacks, if they are not involved then they have not come out and issued any denials.


  • Real Liberal
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:05AM

    In 1880 Swinton was invited to speak at a meeting of journalists in New York City about the freedom of the press. He outraged his colleagues by arguing: “There is no such thing, at this stage of the world’s history in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dare write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my papers, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”


  • Mirza
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:35AM

    The tatto issue is created just like “Ajmal Kasab was not even Pakistani”. We first deny every fact and make use of all schools. By saying that TTP cannot have tatto is saying that we know them and they cannot indulge in such a thing. If we would have known them full well they would not be successful. In addition Kasab was wearing modern clothing and it was denied that he cannot be the bomber. Taliban can mislead any new liberal Muslim and use him successfully. This is a rightwing diversion from real issue.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:36AM

    Habib Jalib was absolutely right in saying ” Yeh jo dus crore hain Jehl ka nachor hain” No wonder they waste time discussing non sense instead of doing something useful.


  • numbersnumbers
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:58AM

    @zeeshan sheikh:
    Please provide us credible references to support your assertion that “this time it is proved that the US is the real terrorist” because of a tattoo found on one of the terrorists! Next you will be saying it was the Russians because he was carrying an AK-47!!!


  • Something Clever
    Dec 18, 2012 - 5:27AM

    You guys are embarrassing yourselves by using this tattoo as confirmation of anything. You will literally be laughed out of the room by anyone with common sense and minor critical thinking skills.
    Muslims may think they’re special but I promise you, when someone converts to Islam their tattoos do not disappear magically. Many conversions take place while people are doing jail time in Western cultures. Plenty of those guys have similar tattoos to push a tough guy image before they get locked up which also means before they converted. TTP blows innocent women and children up intentionally. Do you really believe their recruitment policy is a past of no crime or tattoos? No. It’s as long as you’re Muslim and don’t mind killing without prejudice, you’re in.
    You guys are always, always going on about how Islam is the fastest growing religion. That means you get a lot of conversions to Islam. Those people were never previously bound by any type of cultural restrictions regarding tattoos and they’re rather popular outside Muslim countries, especially with criminals.


  • Liberal Democrat
    Dec 18, 2012 - 9:21AM

    So we should only discuss thing which you feel appropriate?Recommend

  • Yoghurt lover
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:54AM

    I wonder how things which should be exposed at the time autopsy are discovered right after someone gets killed, that too by the police?Recommend

  • A Muslim
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:25AM

    Before writing a long article she has to understand the difference between “a practicing Muslim” and “a Muslim”.


  • Feroz
    Dec 18, 2012 - 12:18PM

    The comments and propensity to indulge in escapist fantasies is the quality that differentiates the citizen from those of any other country. Instead of asking relevant questions like who sheltered these terrorists or how did they reach Peshawar people want to discuss what was on their body. I cannot blame the people solely because they have been lied to about all events by the Government, Schools, Parents and Society. Since they do not see any utopia they see the shadow of some imaginary force trying to subdue and overwhelm them. With this attitude Pakistan is destined to suffer from violence and misery for years to come. The faster people wake up from this delusionary coma the better for the country.


  • SoniaK
    Dec 18, 2012 - 1:04PM

    @Something Clever:
    wow- you are so damn convincing!!! Which means the breeding grounds for this sort of talibans is in the West! That’s what we have been saying from the beginning. Converting to kill and recruiting to kill does happen when people like these serve jails in the West. These people when they land on our soil cause the confusion that they were recruited for in the jails!

    So dear author- the tattoo is significant i guess!!! very significant! I hope you got your answer!


  • Yoghurt lover
    Dec 18, 2012 - 1:41PM

    @A muslim who writes “Before writing a long article she has to understand the difference between “a practicing Muslim” and “a Muslim”. “

    So, Islam is a profession like medicine, law…practicing doctor, practicing lawyer…a practicing muslim.


  • thinking
    Dec 18, 2012 - 2:50PM

    Like many others, this issue also becomes an opportunity for a war of words between right-wing and left-wing thinkers. Extreme left-wingers are trying to prove that there are no foreign elements involved in the name of TTP and these people are only a group of religious people, this view is based on their bias about religious people or some time about religion itself. Extreme right wingers are trying to prove that TTP is not being used in the hand of foreign elements and they are fighting for religion and foreign elements are using their name.


  • Parvez
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:53PM

    So true. All the mufti’s and mullah’s saying what they are saying is like ‘ ignoring the elephant in the room but debating if its colour is grey or black ‘, this is in order to divert people’s attention from the fact that the elephant actually belonged to them but now has grown, become a nuisance and they don’t know what to do with it.


  • Yusuf
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:12PM

    Why should we not discuss tatoos. These kind of tatoos represents satanic cult and as the writer said TTP has taken the responsibility of doing this. Then why we are calling them Muslin Terrorists. They are trained by CIA and working for their agenda. Thes kind of satanic tatoos can also be find on USMC (US Marines) bodies. You can easily search for this on the net. The bullets used by them were military bullets. They had sufisticated weapons. They came from accross the boder with military bullets. Now obviously our military didn’t provided them weapons and bullets. Then who else did this job ??? isn’t it obvious that TTP is a branch of …….


  • Citizen Kane
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:25PM

    Dear Tazeen,

    Stop wasting time discussing a tattoo!


    Citizen Kane


  • Zeeshan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:34PM

    Tattoo is not point of discussion all the Taliban and Pro-Taliban even protest on drone even when they are on commode …………. Isn’t it a clear cut violation of sovereignty that Uzbek, Chechen Saudis and Afghans have occupied the part of Pakistan and conducting attacks on our strategic assets ………..As a Pakistani i am hopeless about my nations mentality and rigidity so Stupid…….


  • Yusuf
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:49PM

    Why should we not discuss tattoos. These kinds of tattoos represents satanic cult and as the writer said TTP has taken the responsibility of doing this. Then why we are calling them Muslin Terrorists. They are trained by CIA and working for their agenda. These kinds of satanic tattoos can also be found on USMC (US Marines) bodies. You can easily search for this on the net. The bullets used by them were military bullets. They had sophisticated weapons. They came from across the border with military bullets. Now obviously our military didn’t provide those weapons and bullets. Then who else did this job??? Isn’t it obvious that TTP is a branch of …….


  • tamour tahir
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:16PM

    to all those who think they are more wise not to waste time on discussing minor issues as “tattoos on a Talibans back” either you guys are absolutly retarted or you are purely in love with disintegrating Pakistan. You are the guys we muslims are being misunderstood all over the world, you guys are the reason enemy of our nation take advantage of our people. How can you guys sleep at night by saying muslims kill muslim. I got three words for you”Shame On YOU”


  • tamour tahir
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:27PM

    to all those who think they are more wise not to waste time on discussing minor issues as “tattoos on a Talibans back” either you guys are absolutly retarted or you are purely in love with disintegrating Pakistan. You are the guys we muslims are being misunderstood all over the world, you guys are the reason enemy of our nation take advantage of our people. How can you guys sleep at night by saying muslims kill muslim. I got three words for you”Shame On YOU”. One thing more that inorder to understand these things you must understand the REAL Difference between Taliban and TTP. If you really can then your article would be on “negative branding strategies in the light of TTP experince and its success”


  • Khan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:11PM


    In Camden town in London a huge community of goths lives who worship satan and the same tatto is also tattooed on their bodies.

    Ignorance in our society can be seen from the comments of this gentleman … I have been living in Camden Town from the past 7 years .. First of all We DO NOT have goths community living in Camden Town .. and NO Gothics do not worship Satan … They follow Gothic style and Gothic Music .. Most of them are just teenagers who wear black but when they are mature enough they are just normal people like any one else. Camden Market is famous for tattoos and that’s why people from all over come there.


  • Khan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:23PM

    Tattoo or no Tattoo .. We all know that there are Uzbeks, Arabs et al who came to this area in 80’s and who would love another go in our neighboring country .. their base will be our bordering areas as they have been living there from decades now.
    The bottom line to all this useless discussion of tattoos is, clearing our own tribal areas from Anti Pakistan element .. We have to close our Western border and throw out all these savages in to the Arabian sea without supporting and differentiating between them. Tomorrow when NATO has left this area these criminals will have a huge base where they can freely and openly train and destroy our cities .. There will be no one to help us against these evils … No one is going to trade with them or provide them any funds thus they will be after us like hungry wolves.


  • numbersnumbers
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:17AM

    And of course you can provide up with credible references to support your comment that “they (TTP) are trained by CIA and working for their agenda”!!! As for you discussion on “sophisticated weapons” and “military bullets”, since when are AK-47s and RPGS considered “sophisticated weapons”??? Any trip to the Waziristans will see the TTP/Militants openly carrying all sorts of infantry weapons, and “military bullets” for typical assault rifles and machine guns are available in the MILLIONS since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the Pakistani army has arsenals bulging with same!Recommend

  • Yusuf
    Dec 19, 2012 - 8:49AM

    I am Glad Ms. Tazeen discussing real face of those spreading terror in my country. Tatto or no tatto, Pakistan must get to the root and say enough is enough. Start with Karachi an anti terror campaigne, we certainly welcome a drug free, bhatta free, terror free, gun free, corruption free Karachi.


  • Pro pakistani
    Dec 19, 2012 - 4:21PM

    I dont know what rubbish author is talking about it looks she hadnt got any knowledge about what has been happening in pakistan. Few of our religious scholar has been killed by these TTP because of condemning thier acts and just to clarify that TTP are anti pakistan. Since begining they been bombing and killing innocent people how can they considered as muslim. Author wants to ditract our attention from the issue and she wants us to believe on her utter rubbish as putting all religious groupes in a same place. If this was the case then TTP had never killed scholars in pakistan who talk against them or issue fatwas against them.


    Dec 19, 2012 - 8:16PM

    She wrote this article cuz she will be given Nobel prize or National prize or Oscar or any other prestigiious award given by Foreigners. Who always support the person who is anti Muslim.

    Dear Author, If you are Muslim atleast be Muslim.
    If you can write that wisdom article you must know the reality. Who is the terrorist.
    Who was behind Iran Iraq war! Who is destabilizing Iran and Egypt.
    Who supported Israeli attack on Palestine.
    Wake up dear otherwise it will be too late.
    funded articles soon would be vanished.
    Stop brain washing
    People know the reality and Even if floods come you would say TTP claimed they were behind it.


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