A judicial executioner, someone whose job description in simple terms requires him to kill, covers his face when he carries out a death sentence. The reasons for this vary from law to law, but one thing is for certain, no executioner would probably want his face displayed each time he drops the rope. I am not sure however, if this sentiment applies to the angry Pakistani mobs who have boldly taken to the streets to burn, beat and kill anyone who may have allegedly done something wrong. Hiding faces or identities is not even necessary here where even the men in uniform have been clearly caught on camera amidst these barbaric mobs.
Without sounding clichéd, I feel the desperate need to reiterate that there is something terribly wrong with our society as a whole. What happened last Sunday in Sialkot was not an isolated event. We have watched police and public alike beat people up in the name of crime, blasphemy, feuds and personal vengeances. Starved for entertainment, we record videos of people being beaten to death. Insensitive of emotions, we gaze at the camera and then turn our eyes back to the spectacle at hand – the murders in the process. Ignorant of the law, we feel invincible as we pass on the sticks and stones – accessory to murder. Oblivious of our crime, we dust our hands and go back home – pass on the story while we walk around the area. Not bogged down by the weight of what we witnessed, we fall asleep – peacefully.
Educated or not, exposed or not, well-aware or not – there can’t be anyone in Pakistan today who feels that public lynching and communal murders can be justified in any way – granted we are a selfish nation, but the floods and terrorism have already taken away thousands of our fellow citizens, do we really want to allow barbarians to take down a couple more?
Those boys deserved a judicial case and then appropriate punishment if any of the initial claims against them committing robbery were true. The bandits burnt to death in Karachi’s Lyari area deserved time in court and then in jail too. The Hindu boy beaten to death in a Korangi factory deserved the same and so did the two Christian brothers who were publicly tortured to death in Sialkot a few months ago. What superiority complex do we as a society have that we feel it is okay for us to pass out and then carry out death sentences ourselves? How are we wired any differently than other nations where we watch such things happen and still have the will to go on strong the next day?
I do not believe in generalisation and I do not believe that each member of the police force is a cold-blooded, ethic-lacking, duty-abandoning façade of an official. However, that being said, I still can’t salute the force which accommodates men who watch murders take place in broad daylight without taking any action. Unfortunately, the only time I hear myself or someone else praising and lauding the police is when some officials sacrifice their lives while protecting the public. Should we only respect officials after they’ve given their lives – nothing short of that matters? Once again – something very wrong with our wiring.
The Chief Justice has taken notice and the leaders have promised action. Do you believe them? I don’t. But does that mean I will pick up my weapon of choice and march on to launch a massacre – most definitely not. If we had faith in the police and the judiciary, perhaps things would not be as bleak as they are today. Perhaps channelling our collective thoughts into fixing these institutions of our society might be a better idea than sitting home with a heavy heart and empty mind.
Yes such incidents embarrass us as a nation and appal us and cause people like you to make posters and protest, while people like me type an angry note and people like Rehman Malik make false promises. I know my services to this society do not end after I am done writing this and your part does not end after you are done reading this either – so what do we do next?
Shyema Sajjad is the Deputy Editor at Dawn.com
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.