Islam Edit Bureau
Your Male Privilege When Talking About Qandeel Baloch
Mohammad Zia Adnan
Coup That Failed
(R) Mirza Aslam Beg
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Baloch was just a name that popped up with irritating frequency on my Twitter
feed. I had a vague idea that she was posting irreverent images of herself
online, and that a cleric had been publicly embarrassed for appearing with her
in a video that went viral.
her, I thought to myself, not paying much attention to her or her online
antics. But when news of her murder by her brother reached me, I went through
some of her material on the Internet, and was gobsmacked by a sexy dance she
performed on her bed.
And I was
just one of over half a million people who had clicked on that particular link.
Many of the comments that had been posted ranged from the sanctimonious to the
bitchy. Some, mercifully, expressed their sorrow at the model’s death, and
their anger at her brother.
men be accused of tarnishing the family ‘honour’?
murderer, Waseem Azeem, said later that his family’s ‘honour’ had been so
tarnished that he had to kill himself or his sister. So why didn’t he just kill
himself? Obviously, the way to protect the family’s honour is to strangle a
vulnerable woman, just as so many hundreds are murdered every year.
— and Muslims — don’t have a monopoly on this vile practice. But statistically,
more Muslim women are killed by male family members for marrying of their own
free will, or for other transgressions of a savage social code, than any
others. In many cases, the killers are aided and abetted by close female
most sickening aspect of this warped desire to enforce obedience from women is
that it is widely accepted and even condoned and defended. Sharmeen
Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning documentary The Girl in the River: The Price of
Forgiveness makes this chillingly clear. The father of the eponymous girl he
almost managed to kill boasted that as a result of his attempted murder, his
status in the community had gone up, and his other daughter had received
several marriage proposals.
documentary, the victim, Saba, is pressured to ‘forgive’ her father in a court.
She explains in an interview that she has to live in the community, and if her
father were sent to jail, her family and neighbours would make things
intolerable for her.
And so it
goes. In Qandeel Baloch’s case, the state has become a party in the case of
murder in the expectation that this would preclude the possibility of the
killer being let off the hook by offering his parents blood money. However,
legal experts are divided on the issue. But even if the self-confessed murderer
is convicted for his crime, he will be an exception because, in most such
cases, men are usually set free.
family ‘honour’ provides men with a powerful motive to kill. But what is it
exactly? Why can men behave in the most obnoxious way and not be accused of
tarnishing this so-called family honour? They can rape, steal and kill without
arousing family members to seek retribution.
So how come
women are the sole custodians of this precious commodity? Why does this burden
not fall equally on men? It would appear that the whole concept is a primitive
tribal construct designed to control women. Virginity is highly prized in
backward societies, and if there is any doubt about the matter, marriage
becomes virtually impossible.
rights are another aspect of family honour: if a girl marries a man the family
has not selected, he can later claim a share of his wife’s inheritance. Also, a
father or a brother lose face in their community if it appears they cannot
force a daughter or a sister to obey them.
Hindus, it is anathema for an upper-caste man or woman to marry somebody of a
lower caste. Hundreds are killed for this ‘offence’, and killers are seldom
punished. Other backward societies maintain similar taboos and enforce them
with lethal force.
But why do
democracies permit this murderous practice to continue, thereby allowing the
subjugation of half their population? In many of our courts, reference to
family ‘honour’ attracts the judge’s sympathy. The law of the land and the
rights of the victim are set aside while the murderer, usually a man, is given
s long as
judges, police and the wider society continue slut-shaming victims, this
vicious tradition will continue. And as we saw in the online and televised
comments following Qandeel Baloch’s murder, a number of people take the view
that her brother should not be blamed. For them, the model’s social media
displays invited retribution.
t is this
hypocritical attitude that creates an environment of sympathy and support for
those who kill in the name of ‘honour’. For the sake of tradition and religion,
we permit — even encourage — the oppression of women.
death Qandeel has achieved an iconic status, while her many critics will soon
passage from Rabisankar Bal’s Dozakhnama, Manto, on the male ego, says:
rears its head, it wants to destroy the very world. Do you know why? Because
it’s a glass doll. Throw it on the floor and it’ll shatter. So it becomes
furious at the slightest threat.
Do you know
what the male ego is: I’m the last word, nothing can be greater.
imagines conversations in hell between Manto and Ghalib, but Manto could have
very well written this in real life.
privilege in his Pakistan of the 1940s and 50s is not far removed from the
situation today. If anything, it has remained unchecked and permitted to
Now we live
in communities ailing from the cancer of systemic misogyny. Qandeel Baloch’s
horrific murder at the hands of her own brother casts light upon this malignant
may have acted alone, but he was produced in, and emerges from, a system that
turns a blind eye to his ‘honour’, but doesn’t fail to scrutinise the actions
of his sister under an intrusive and repugnant microscope.
anyone justify his actions? Is it not more dishonourable to live with the guilt
of murdering your own sister?
Baloch’s savage murder an ‘honour’ killing is despicable.
that Baloch deserved her death is a testament to the fragile male ego, still
pining for justification after innocent blood has already been spilt.
We talk a
lot about ‘culture’ in Pakistan. We strike down ambition in the name of
that wearing a certain item of dress, or not wearing a certain item of dress,
is not our ‘culture’. Qandeel was apparently a ‘disgrace’ to this unnamed,
unclassified, monolithic 'culture'.
phenomenal essay, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, Nigerian author Chimimanda
Ngozi Adichie addresses the problem of society failing to extend equality to
women in the name of 'culture'. She writes:
does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity
of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.
called herself a modern-day feminist. In death, as in life, she remains a
polarising figure. She was a woman who reclaimed her body from the male gaze
and didn't allow others to police or regulate it.
she controlled the male gaze, rebelliously deciding to whom, and when, she
would make herself virtually visible.
clearly defied what we understand and accept as appropriate gender performance.
And regardless of how we come to recognise her legacy, Baloch was undoubtedly a
was primed by the media like a lamb up for slaughter, lionised, loathed, named
blame not only those who sought to profit from her notoriety, but also
Pakistan's toxic male privilege that validates this kind of treatment.
blame not only Baloch's brother who acted as the medium through which this
abhorrent privilege was conveyed to Qandeel as a lasting and fatal blow, but
also the culture of misogyny that legitimises and protects men like him in
campuses in the US, we often discuss intersectionality, identity, race,
ethnicity and privilege. "Check your privilege," has become a
knee-jerk phrase during arguments, alluding to the fact that we all have
advantages that aren't necessarily apparent to us when we comment on the
experiences of others.
feminist, a male, a Pakistani, I am ashamed of the privilege that I am accorded
because of an accident of birth.
there is blood on all of our hands — both the men who condone killings in the
name of honour, and those who have, thus far, remained silent on the issue.
In the wake
of Baloch's murder, hollow condemnations are too little, too late.
And so, to
the men who believe Qandeel Baloch ‘had it coming’, I say, check your
To the men
who have condemned her murder but still think she wasn't necessarily the best
'role model', check your privilege.
people who think that ‘honour’ killings aren’t the same as cold-blooded
murders, check your privilege.
privilege. It's time that we all well and truly did.
Mohammad Zia Adnan is an undergraduate at
weekend there has been much excitement in Pakistan over the botched coup
attempt in Turkey. This wasn’t because the Turks and us have a special shared
affinity since the Khilafat movement and we were worried sick how our brethren
might fare under a dictatorship.
and Turkey have both suffered military interventions in the past and that
hasn’t affected our bond. (Actually it might be no exaggeration to say that
General Musharraf has been more popular with our Turkish friends that any
contemporary Pakistani ruler).
Many of us
watched what was unfolding in Turkey with anxiety about its likely effect in
Pakistan. In a country where the fear of a saviour is omnipresent; a fear that
begins to grow once an elected government’s initial honeymoon period has ended,
and becomes especially pronounced near a scheduled change of guard at the GHQ,
it was obvious that the effects of a putsch in Turkey would be felt in
Pakistan. More so as no other army chief in recent history has enjoyed the
reputation of a deliverer that General R has built for himself.
banners displayed on streets across Pakistan inviting the army chief to “move
in”, with the Sharif family embroiled in the Panama scandal that won’t go away,
and with the opposition launching an all-out agitation against the PML-N
government, the success of a praetorian adventure in Turkey at this time could
have been ominous not only for the Sharifs but also for democratic continuity
and constitutionalism in Pakistan. But the fact that it failed doesn’t
necessarily mean that our appetite for adventurism will also whittle down.
The glee of
the PML-N and its devotees over Turkey’s failed coup is palpable. On the other
hand, apologists of adventurism have been at pains to explain that the coup
failed solely because it was not fully backed by the military and was badly
executed. Both sides are playing out scenarios in their minds in the context of
Pakistan. Team PML-N wishes the failed Turkish coup to act as a deterrent in
Pakistan. And Team SaviourVille is essentially saying that had the putsch been
in the land of the pure, any question of ‘failure’ wouldn’t even arise.
two essential parts of this advisory. One, that had it been Pakistan, the top
military leadership would lead a coup and not the ranks of a divided military
as in Turkey, and would therefore succeed. And two, that public response would
be one of celebrating such forced takeover by the military as opposed to
resisting it. In other words, Pakistan military and its ‘men at their best’
wouldn’t do a sloppy job at launching a coup if they so wished, and if they so
wished, ordinary people would welcome the move.
be no quarrel with any of this. And that is probably why many in Pakistan
viewed the spectacular scenes emanating from Turkey – a military not united
behind usurpation of the constitution; ordinary people resisting a forced
takeover by fellow soldiers with tanks and guns, even at the cost of their
lives – with nothing but sheer envy.
everyone who has studied the ethos and structure of our military will agree
that only the army chief can launch a successful coup in Pakistan. And thank
God for that.
the guardians,” Plato had asked in The Republic. “The wonder…is not why the
military rebels against its civilian masters, but why it ever obeys them”,
Samuel Finer had mused in The Man on the Horseback. In societies transitioning
from rule of men to rule of law, constitutionalism, institutional evolution,
political stability and civility all remain at the mercy of individuals
wielding power before the transition is complete. Why else are we appealing to
General R himself to be a good man and do the right thing on the matter of his
There is a
lot of nonsense being bandied about Erdogan and his government to explain the
failed coup in Turkey, especially by those who wish military coups to remain a
live threat in Pakistan. Our excellent all-weather relationship with Turkey
aside, Erdogan is seen to be as autocratic a civilian leader as can be. He has
been accused of showing no patience for dissent, for persecuting opponents,
generals, judges, academics, journalists (anyone who opposes him really), of
censoring the media, and of being involved in a corruption scandal.
Turkey’s economic progress over the last decade and a half, Erdogan is not the
‘messiah’ he has been made out to be in Pakistan. And the cause of envy in
relation to Turkey’s response to the attempted coup was just that: despite all
the failings of Erdogan and the fear of further repression if he survived, even
his harshest critics in Turkey opposed the putsch. It seemed that Turkey had
graduated to a higher level of evolution with its people collectively rejecting
the law of the jungle as a necessary response to a controversial leader.
sadly lost on Imran Khan and others embellishing a possible coup and peoples’
acceptance of it as a legitimate response to a bad government in Pakistan.
Guardians using force to enforce the law is one thing. But to bring out tanks
and armour that a nation hands them to fight enemies and draw guns to threaten
fellow countrymen to abide by their diktat is simply abhorrent. Such use of
force to conquer one’s own home can never be legitimate. But questions of
legitimacy are still not part of the norms that guide our behaviour and
that military rule is welcome because an incumbent civilian leader is terrible
is devoid of logical reasoning. The UK is going through a political crisis. But
the question of the military taking over the government because politicians
seem to be failing might have crossed no one’s mind. A Trump presidency might a
nightmare for the US (and the world). But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff assuming control of Washington on the basis that the political class is
rotten and has failed the country is not even imaginable.
We are not
the US or UK and our institutions are at a different stage of evolution. But so
is our consciousness, which is why our constitution and our laws are still mere
lines in the sand within our own contemplation. We eulogise the military. But
we fail to comprehend that the military is great because it is not dependent on
the greatness of one individual. No one doubts that when a COAS walks into the
sunset and the next commander takes over, he will wield the same authority that
his predecessor did and have the allegiance of all those who don the uniform.
military performs because it follows its rulebook meticulously. But rule of law
in Pakistan remains at peril for many reasons, including that within the
military mindset the command of the constitution doesn’t trump the command of
the commander. If the military gets a terrible commander, the institution waits
him out cognizant that breach of rules or chain of command will do more
long-term harm to the institution than good. But the logic breaks down when it
comes to evolution and strengthening of vital civilian institutions.
general has done a great job as army chief doesn’t qualify him to take over the
country. That a military takeover is still possible doesn’t mean we must side
with a prime minister unconditionally or not hold his feet to fire.
leaders like IK mustn’t do is endorse the argument that a rotten civilian
government is justification enough for martial law and public acceptance of it.
For that feeds into the larger narrative that we have a failed civilian
political class due to which democratic continuity will pay no dividends ever.
That is the biggest threat to democracy in Pakistan; not one failed leader or
Babar Sattar is a lawyer based in Islamabad.
(r) Mirza Aslam Beg
makers attempted to stem the tide of change taking place in Turkey, under the
democratic order, but failed, unlike the earlier four attempts made in 1960,
1971, 1980 and 1997, which succeeded. The attempted coup took place because the
military considers itself the ‘guarantor of the secular political order’ and
opposes President Erdogan and his party leading the political Islamic order,
which also is not acceptable to the Shadowy powers - the champions of
democracy, who prefer a pure secular democratic order as in Bangladesh. For
example the political Islamic order in Egypt was ruthlessly crushed by the
military, supported by petro dollars of the Middle East and the ‘champions of
democracy’. No wonder, the New York Times of 19 July laments: “Political Islam
Emerges winner in Turkey. All in all Turkey will become a country where power
is more consolidated and dissent will be more difficult.”
Erdogan leads a popular political movement. Economy is stable because of
balanced fiscal policies. He has turned around the economy; paid back US$ 24 bn
to IMF; brought about 64% increase in GDP, raised the national reserves from
US$ 25 bn to 135 bn, and brought down inflation from 32% to 9%. Several high
profile national developments projects have uplifted the level of prosperity.
Whereas, there has been a gradual decline in the military influence. The size
of the Army now stands reduced to 5,50,000 from the previous 8,00,000. It was
mainly the lower ranking officers, who attempted the coup. The army and air
chiefs were arrested. President Erdogan escaped and gave the call to the people
to rise against the coup makers and received a popular response, with people
confronting the army, forcing them to retreat to their barracks or surrender. A
significant feature was the loyalty of the police force to Erdogan, over which
he has a strong grip. The efficient intelligence network was ready and vigilant
to face such a crisis. As of now, the opposition parties support the
government, condemning the coup makers in a rare show of unity. Even the Kurd
Democratic Party (HDP) and others stand by the side of the government.
was led by the former Air Chief, supported by lower ranking officers. The rebel
gunships hit the parliament and their troops reached out to seal-off the bridge
over the Bosphorous. In the absence of the Army Chief, General Umit Dundar
assumed command to crush the revolt. The failed coup is a golden opportunity to
heal a deeply divided society. Curiously, the coup attempt coincides with the nascent
trends of a shift in the Turkish foreign policy – in particular, in the
direction of a rapprochement with Russia and a possible rollback of Ankara’s
interventionist policies in Syria. These events would constitute a major
setback to the US’s agenda to establish a permanent NATO presence in the Black
Sea to contain Russia. The moot question is, who was supporting the ‘Young
Turks’ who rebelled. Why did the government seal-off the Incirlik airbase and
declare a ‘No fly zone’? Why didn’t the petro-dollars work here to buy the
support of the higher military command?
botched coup offers the opportunity to understand the nature of critical
civil-military relationship obtaining in Pakistan where a serious ideological
conflict, between the moderate Islamists and the secularists exists. The
die-hard religious parties ignored by the people stand marginalised, having no
role in shaping the ideological ethos of the nation. Our heads of the State,
the government and national institutions, who take oath to defend the
Constitution of Pakistan which lays down the national purpose that Pakistan
will be a democracy governed by the principles of Quran and Sunnah, have
nurtured only democracy, ignoring Quran and Sunnah, causing a dangerous vacuum
and tension between political Islam and Secularism. Regretfully, the US policy
of “perception management of the Pakistani nation”, has added fuel to the fire,
creating conditions such as those, which caused the civil war in Indonesia in
failed but it may not fail again, when the Turkish armed forces regain their
élan. Their moral strength lies in their past history. The victorious powers in
the First World War destroyed the Ottoman Empire. Mustafa Kamal Ataturk emerged
to unite Turkey as a secular state. Under his leadership the army defeated the
enemy forces in the battle of Gallipoli and holds this honour at the deep
recess of their hearts. It will assert itself.
Pakistan, the narrative is very different. Our armed forces have had a marginal
role in winning our freedom, whereas they inherited the high military
traditions of the British and never felt comfortable serving a weak political
order. Soon the military joined hands with the civil bureaucracy to usurp power
in 1958, 68, 77 and 98. The political parties, which could not win elections on
their own, joined the Band Wagon. And now, that the good and bad democracy is
chugging along, the “band wagon political parties” are once again active to
edge-out the elected government. Shamelessly they are inviting the army to
take-over. This may well be possible, but is not likely, because it is a
different army now. It has acquired a knowledge based value system, which is
very much different from the past. Its professionalism is at its best with
demonstrated capability to protect national security interests against external
and internal threats.
command and internal cohesiveness gives the Army the resilience to stay away
from sectarianism, socio-political conflict, and societal contradictions. Yet,
the key word must be remembered: “When you can no longer trust your army, there
are serious issues that need to be addressed-(Robert Fisk).” And that is
precisely our problem also, which Shahbaz Sharif is trying to handle on behalf
of his ailing brother. Can he!!
Gen (r) Mirza Aslam Begis a former COAS, Pakistan. He
can be reached at email@example.com
“…preclude the possibility of the killer being let off the hook by
offering his parents blood money”. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan
should know that for ‘premeditated murder’ the prescribed punishment is death. No
Sir, there is no reprieve for the murderer!
“It would appear that the whole
concept is a primitive tribal construct designed to control women. Virginity is
highly prized in backward societies,…” Again No Sir, ask the late comedian Dave
Allen for one…Chastity Belts and the Crusaders?
Male privilege culture is church’s
creation and thanks to the concept of “hoors and virgins” of male-priesthood.
Fire test of Ram’s Sita, Virgins mother of Jesus and Hoors of Jannah for
I support fire test at melting point
of iron-hadeed for all potential and current priests.