Lynched by the system

Updated March 17, 2015

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Muhammad Naeem was a glass-cutter, fitting windows in a home in the locality where the blasts took place. —DawnNews screengrab
Muhammad Naeem was a glass-cutter, fitting windows in a home in the locality where the blasts took place. —DawnNews screengrab

Apparently, 'mob lynching is the worst kind of terrorism' — at least that is what Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar seems to think.

Disregard terrorist groups attacking schools, hospitals, churches and mosques — no, it is those angry men on the street who are the real terrorists.

Really? Nisar must have gotten carried away while condemning the latest lynching episode to happen in the country and in the heat of the moment decided that perhaps mob violence is worse than a suicide bombing.

As senseless and damaging as mob violence is, it happens repeatedly in our country because justice has failed, repeatedly. Nobody is held accountable for violence on the streets these days.

When the Sialkot brothers were beaten to death by an angry mob a few years ago, Pakistanis vowed they had never seen anything more gruesome.

More recently, the country mourned over the loss of a Christian couple allegedly accused of blasphemy, who were first beaten and then set to fire in a brick kiln.

Two days ago, after the tragic twin church blasts in Lahore, another angry mob decided they did not want to wait for the law to take over and instead took matters in their own hands, burning alive two people during violent protests.

It is no secret that our people are impulsive, angry and for some odd reason, always drawn to destroying their own property and assets. Anything anti-Islamic happening across the world, and Pakistan will be the first country to torch gas stations and shatter windows of every building possible.

While burning vehicles and damaging public property is dangerous enough, it is far worse, when the very same people decide to take lives on behalf of a failing justice system.

Also read: Killing outside churches, lynching in the streets

Muhammad Naeem was one of the victims beaten and burnt to death on Sunday. He was a glass-cutter, fitting windows in a home in the locality where the blasts took place.

What was Naeem's fault? Perhaps, nothing.

But when a mob is charged in Pakistan — nothing stops them. No pleas, no conscience and definitely no police.

Meanwhile, various explanations are being given as to why the attack on the churches took place — the militants are desperate and attacking 'soft targets' like worship homes. That explanation may be right but it can in no way console or make up for the loss of the families of the 15 victims.

The ordinary citizen doesn't care about military strategies — the ordinary victim just wants people to stop dying.

And for that, along with the army, the government needs to act too. Pondering over committee-making and devising new national security plans after a large scale attack has already taken place is too little too late — and then delaying even that much action is just sheer apathy.

According to the interior minister, it is impossible to secure every place of worship in the country, and while that makes sense for the most part, it sounds harsh knowing it is very much possible to secure every politician and their residence in this country, along with their entire family, immediate and extended and their domestic help.

The solution does not lie in placing four policemen outside every mosque and church in the country — as stated a million times by a million analysts, it lies in clipping the root of terrorism, not in facilitating it or working your way around it!

Nisar's statements yesterday claiming that the overall security situation in the country has improved, holds no value when parents have pulled out children from schools in the aftermath of the Peshawar attack.

Nothing can be considered improved when terrorists are still attacking schools and churches.

So it wasn't a police headquarter site or a law enforcement army building this time, fact remains we are still under attack. Whether this is the reason why people are taking the law into their own hands, or whether it’s a mass psychological issue with our countrymen, until and unless the justice system doesn't start working properly and quickly, such things will continue to happen.

School bullies from influential families will continue shooting whomever they like.

Christians will continue getting killed on alleged reports of blasphemy.

Ordinary glass-cutters will continue being beaten and burnt for no real reason.

Why? Because there is no one to stop it from happening.

The government, pondering over whether to act or not to act in such situations, is allowing this madness to advance to alarming stages by their inaction.

Scuffling with blind protesters is okay for our policemen to indulge in but on Sunday they claim that using force could have turned the situation ugly. Two innocent people were killed and burnt alive — is that not ugly enough?

Also read: Punjab police: To (not) serve and protect

While bigger, more intricate strategies can continue being worked upon to tackle terrorism, a speedy and effective system needs to be devised that does not allow anyone in the street to pull a trigger or yield a stick just because injustice is happening around them.

The justice system needs to be fair and effective in order for people to have faith in it, but before that, it is the government and law-enforcers job to make sure such incidents are prevented and are not allowed to escalate to such a level where they can no longer be contained.

Naeem's blood is as much on the hands of the government as it is on the mob that killed him.