By Amina Jilani
March 10, 2012
“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 incident
rouse no ire, nor should disgust, nor even interest, in the supposedly-educated
youth of this country, 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
— 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
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.
Source: The Express