Over 15 articles were published when the paedophile ring in Kasur was exposed. Each article said more or less the same thing; ‘this is horrific’, ‘how could we let this happen’, ‘these kids and their families need justice’.
Then, the week ended and Pakistanis moved on.
The same thing happened after the APS Peshawar massacre – some weeks of articles and condemnations and then, on to something new.
We, as a nation, do not seem to have a conscience. It appears we also hate tough questions. We feel uneasy dealing with the hypocrisy that has come to form the very basis of our society.
In some cases, we are barely bothered to even acknowledge (let alone deal with) any wrong, because that damages our ‘pure’ image and no matter how messed up we really are, all we seem to care about is how we appear to the world.
Appalling things continue to happen in our society not because the government is powerless, but because people have weak characters. They are hypocritical and find it easier to simply look the other way and allow the bad to keep happening than to counteract it; be it incidents of sexual harassment, rape or massacres of our children.
And none of this is about to change because people do not want it to change.
Incidents like Kasur will keep reoccurring because even as pedophilia cases rivet the nation, happen around us and to our own children, a conversation about the subject will scandalise us much more than the crime itself.
Is that surprising? Especially to a society where the majority does not even consider marital rape as rape.
To be fair though, a small segment of the population has started to talk about issues like sexual molestation more openly now. But even in these talks, you will find the basic working principle that informs our societal dynamics everywhere: time and energy being spent on rationalising the phenomena, finding excuses about why it happened and blaming it on someone else.
One of our worst problems is that we immediately try to rationalise the worst of things.
In such instances, we are so focused on shutting the debate down that we will latch on to any explanation available other than the one based on the tough realities. That is also why we are so fixated on politics and nationalism in our country because such obsessions give us ideal opportunities to focus our minds elsewhere and away from inconvenient truths.
Also read: Our denial killed children in Peshawar
Be it the by-elections of one or two constituencies out of the 272, or some celebrity’s wedding, our media will be interested in anything that does not force the Pakistani society to look inwards and where the debate can be dichotomised into good and bad.
For the last four years, we have been fixated on a meaningless political fight. ‘This millionaire is better than that millionaire’ is an easy distraction from real issues like a stunted economy and a decadent society.
The only way I understand this that we simply do not want change. In fact, our real mantra is not change but escapism.
There is no better tomorrow, because that requires introspection. And introspection requires the courage to acknowledge our vices, which we are not yet ready to do.
So, when the next tragedy strikes, cut the outrage and know that we, as a society, enabled it. Whatever that tragedy is, it will be on us. All of us.