5 Culpable parties in #Gujranwala Killings

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“Hate is a baggage. Life is too short to be pissed all the time. It’s not just worth it”, are the words of Danny Vinyard, the protagonist in my all time favorite Hollywood flick,American history X

I reckon his words are the most suitable antidote needed at this critical juncture by our society that has been defaced with another scar in the form of Gujranwala killings.  

The miscreants torching houses of the vulnerable Ahmadi minority at the culmination of the Holy month of Ramadan added to the ignominy of the shameful act. An inside source cleared the air that the accused was framed, a commonplace with minorites in Pakistan, since his facebook account was hacked before he was charged of posting an offensive image on the social networking website. 

Post Gujranwala incident, I have identified five culpable parties whose indifference towards humanity is startling:

1). The Mob (mentality)

This is the most dangerous of the lot as they comes in various shapes and forms. They are well verse at wielding sticks, totting guns and pyrotechnics. They claim that they ostensibly retaliate in the name of the God, yet their goal is to incite hate.

 At times they afflict pain by being physical on other ocassions they prefer to remain silent. Wondering how?

When Farzana Parveen was stoned to death in broad daylight this mob watched orgasmically until the poor lass breathed her last. Whereas in cases of Badami Bagh tragedy, Gojra massacre, Youtube protest and recently Gujranwala arson they excercised their physical prowess.

Another bizzare routine in their modus operandi is looting. They executed it with utter impunity, after setting houses,belonging to the Ahmadis, on fire. 

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2). Inept criminal justice system: 

With human rights violation galore, the criminal justice system in the Islamic republic of Pakistan has failed miserable and as it seems, the price tag on life depends on a person’s religious affiliation — a pity to say the least.

Every passing day our flawed judicial system strengthens the radical element by bowing in front of his tyranny. In case of Gujranwala incident it has hardly taken notice.

No matter how debatable or confusing the intricacies of blasphemy law are but it is clear as a May morning that only state has the right to exercise the law. The Gujranwala incident would be the umpteenth time when judiciary and the state machinery have failed to deliver.

If past precedence of this skewed system is anything to go by then Hijratullah, the culprit in Manawa incident is a prime example. He was sentenced to 7 years later Judges ruled him innocent.

Same hold true in the case of Rimsha Masih, where witnesses changed their testimony during the course of legal proceeding against Khalid Chishti, who was charged with wrongly framing Rimsha of blasphemy. As a result the culprit went scot-free.

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Rashid Rehman case is no different. While representing blasphemy accused lecturer, Junaid Hafeez, he was threatened by his counterpart in the court of law but the system was unmoved. He was eventually shot in point blank range by the supposed custodians of the Ummah. 

I reckon the recently promulgated Pakistan Protection act 2014 has pushed the envelope a few notches. With bizarre clauses suggesting that “an accused is guilty until proven innocent“, could well sound like death rattle for the vulnerable minorities, if misused. 

A commission being formed to investigate the murder of innocent Hira, Kainat and Bashiran in Gujranwala incident seems a remote possibility as well.

3). Chief minister Punjab and his toadies:

Being a direct stakeholder, Khadim e Ala could not muster courage to publicly condemn the killings.Usually hands on, both CM and his toadies including Khurram Dastagheer, MNA from Gujranwala, (despite being contacted by the jamat ahmadiya spokesperson) kept their lips mummed over the unfortunate incident, that consumed the lives of two children and a pregnant lady.

On the contrary, a few days later the news about the electrocution of 3 minors in the same city, prompted Shahbaz Sharif to take notice and order investigation resulting in fastidious suspension of a myriads of rank and file GEPCO officials. (Link attached)

One must not forget that Shahbaz sharif was the incumbent in Punjab when Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Raza Rumi were attacked. When household names can’t find peace under his leadership, I wonder how a vulnerable minority can wish for it.

4). Electronic media 

This medium is all encompassing, has a larger reach and illiteracy is not a barrier in its viewership, but on the issues of Ahmadis, it is coy and timid like politicians of our country.

Barring Jibran Nasir who had the chutzpah to break the silence through his show, Izhar, rest of the media was busy playing to the galleries.

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At most, state television PTV drew a hazy picture of the incident by letting the audience know that there was a rift between two groups that led to the incineration. Hardly any media outlet pointed out at the fact that fire brigades were forced to go back by the angry mob when they arrived at the scene. Like previous incidents pertaining to this minority group, facts were twisted to get it over with.

Similarly the unfortunate incident of 28th May 2010 in which more than 90 Ahmadis lost their lives failed to get ample air time as it was treated as a petty lapse on the part of law enforcement agencies.

5). Unpatriotic Gaza sympathizers

They update status in favor of the oppressed Palestinians but they find it difficult to share a tweet highlighting the plight of minorities rotting in their own backyard. They must understand that charity begins from home.

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The Zionist oppression against Palestinians is as condemnable as the act of hooligans lighting houses of Pakistanis on fire. Shouting hoarse over the plight of Palestinians in Gaza while caring less about the miseries of their compatriots manifests their indifference towards their homeland. Their bigotry is unexplainable and their nationalism questionable.

All hate mongers must realize that it is not about who is right or wrong? The issue is whether you have the conscience to raise voice over the tyrannical act or are you simply numb. 

As for Danny Vinyard, he gets shot by a random fanatic in the end. 

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I am Rashid Rehman, Are You?

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This was the tweet of Raza Rumi after two gunmen barged into the office of Rashid Rehman, Junaid Hafeez’s attorney and shot him at point blank range!

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Raza Rumi is naturally gutted, having left Pakistan on account of insecurity. He can feel the pinch, as he himself fortuitously escaped an attack carried out by demented personnel of the same mentality.

A bit of background of the deceased who laid his life advocating equal human rights for all.

Rehman had the courage to take up the case of Junaid Hafeez, a visiting proffessor of english literature at Bahahudin Zikkariya university, who was rotting in jail for the last few months for allegedly using blasphemous remarks on facebook by the right winged Jamiat student Union at BZU. As with such cases he was unfortunate to hire an attorney since no one was willing to fight his case.

In the very first hearing (which strangely took place inside the prison, most probably due to sensitivity of the case) Rashid Rehman received death threats from the plaintiff’s attorney in front of the Judge. Rashid officially lodged a grievance about the insecurity he felt post such threats but to no avail.

Rashid Rehman, a seasoned human rights advocate, would not have pursued the case if he had known that there was substantial proof against the defendant.

Once again the million dollar question that where is the cogent proof? begs its answer since the unfortunate incidents of Asia Bibi and Rimsha Masih just to name a few.

I guess the rule of thumb in Pakistan suggests that in cases of blasphemy proof doesnot matter, only hearsay is enough to smear or convict some one. Take the example of un wanton arson and looting of valuables in Farooqi Girls High School on alleged charges of blasphemy on the owners. How convenient?

The net result is that the toll taken by innocent people dragged into blasphemy cases is rising with every passing incident. Today Pakistan is a country with the highest number of people on death row or doing time for committing blasphemy.

On the contrary the proof of harassment and death threats received to Rashid Rehman can somewhat be deduced from the following statements:

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The tragedy in this case is that the murder of a Relentless human rights activists could not garner much attention or airtime on electronic media. May be as a nation we are either pusillanimous or just indifferent. All we get from media is the trivial debate over non issues and politicians jockeying for power.

Every time an unfortunate incident of such nature befalls, the liberal optimists fill social media space by heaping anathema over dictator Zia Ul Haq for reinforcing the law; thinking it would suffice in spurring change but the inaction on part of all pillars of state, fails to break the stalemate. At times such sensitive situations even exacerbate matters a few notches.

I can recall Salman Taseer being shot by the delirious Mumatz Qadri; years later we see a mosque being named after the killer. To boot, there is a library in Pakistan that is named after the Infamous Osama Bin Laden. Wow, we are making some progress.

I for one find uncanny similarity between Rashid Rehman and Shahid Azmi, an indian advocate who got shot in the similar fashion. both to me were epitomes of courage, valour and change.

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I am Rashid Rehman, as i reckon i am as insecure as he was in a free country. If the current narrative prevails then i fear that every child born in the country would call himself Rashid Rehman. The only positive assumption in my argument is that i wish no child is born as the one who took the life of the innocent advocate.

As i ardently believe that ‘killing an innocent person is the gravest form of blasphemy’.

RIP rule of law!!

Mr. khan! beware of the political Fatwa.

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I am not referring to Rimsha Masih, Salman Taseer or the Ahmadi community. This time around there is a warning for Imran khan to weigh his words as there is a likelihood that the legendary sportsman cum politician might get entangled in a banal blasphemy controversy, concocted this time round by the JUI leadership.

Imran khan in one of his by-election rallies, criticised JUI’s previous tenure’s performance in KPK by stating that he will clean their mess. As a repartee, JUI ‘s head Molana Fazl ur Rehman refering to Imran khan uttered words like ” beating GoldSmith’s agenda and his jewish conspiracy in the by elections “. He also cleverly portrayed Imran khan’s severe rebuke aimed at his party, as a blasphemous statement.

During his political campaign Maulana Fazlur Rehman played around Imran khan’s words quite skilfully. He equated his party’s last term performance as a tenure when Islamic values and the shariat were upheld that the PTI leader had allegedly profaned by terming it as a mess.

You have to give it to Maulana sahib’s skilful rhetorics. With his comments the discord between him and Imran khan has gone off on a new tangent.

It shows how in Islamic Republic of Pakistan you can get into big trouble if you don’t mind your tongue while confronting any dogmatic person with religious clout and fan following.

Tv show hosted by Waseem Badami on Ary tv on the 20th August 2013 also highlighted the gravity of the issue, which was escalated by Maulana sahib’s response to Imran khan’s criticism at JUI’s previous performance in KPK. In the show PTI’s otherwise outspoken candidate Shahreyar Afridi looked coy and rather submissive for the most part of the show in the presence of JUI representative who portrayed his party as the sanctimonious one and in the meanwhile ridiculed Imran Khan’s statement as desecration to shariat and Islam.

In my view there seems to be a an unending romance of the politicised clerics with the blasphemy law in the country ever since General Zia came to power. It has affected many a lives, curbed freedom of speech and put the clerics in charge of the way we should approach life.

As ironic as it may sound but in our country the only species that has the right to exercise freedom of speech with full pelt are the politically motivated Islamic scholars. Considering the current situation they can even get away with murder where as a layman’s words gets propagandised negatively by the clerics.

A recent example was that of Amir Liaqat Hussain, considered a part of the cleric’s cult, who rebutted a random Journalist Ziauddin khan’s incisive article that criticized his antics and his extremely popular show during Ramadan. He skillfully cloaked himself in the garb of religion and accused Ziauddin in return for disrespecting the Holy month of Ramadan.

It is a pity that the tainted politics in our country gets sustenance by playing the religion card. Not that i am a PTI supporter or Imran khan fan but just as a compassionate human being i want to advice a foolhardy Imran Khan to mellow down and mince his words while talking in processions and during political campaigning.

Not many politicians get to support various minorities openly in Pakistan just to avoid falling prey to the politically motivated muslim scholars’ animosity, who can launch a negative campaign against that particular politician. In hindsight we have myriads of examples in our country whereby a politician had gotten into deep waters just because of showing an iota of solidarity with the estranged minorities.

The political process is deemed as a driving force and pivot behind forming a country’s national narrative . It should not be given a religious shade, if a country is to build consensus across the broad spectrum and develop a healthy public discourse.

I hope Imran khan realises that it is high time for him to matures as a seasoned politician and may God help Molana sahib as well.