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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The Pakistani Saga

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Recent developments in Pakistani society has led me to the conclusion that the ongoing orgasm of schadenfreude is not only restricted to local media industry — which has resorted to cannibalism through mudslinging and nitpicking — In fact it has engulfed all spheres of our society.

Farzana Parveen and Doctor Ali Mahdi are the latest casualties — One a helpless pregnant lady and other a hapless Ahmadi doctor; both victims of defeatist mind set.

These recurrent tragedies call for a postmortem of our societal norms in general.

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Robert Bolt’s epic play “A man for all seasons” seems to epitomise the prevailing societal norms in Pakistan to the core. I reckon our society runs rife with the characters of Lord Thomas More, Richard Rich, Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII. Analysing each is pivotal.

Take the case of Lord Thomas More, the protagonist in the play. He comes across as a conscientious and devout to his faith Pakistani. Periodically he wrestles between his moral uprightness and moral turpitude. Just like any regular Pakistani, he is forced to bend rules under rampant corruption, a gift of inept system.

On one instance just to safeguard his guiding beliefs, Thomas More is seen as finding legal loopholes in the constitution after being wrongly accused as a traitor by state machinery (King Henry VIII and his aides) — Liberal and outspoken Pakistanis from civil society including a number of journalists, social activists and some politicians can correlate with the tag of a “traitor” for staying steadfast to their set of values.

Then there are the likes of Richard Rich, who are always on the look out to cut corners and get worldly means even if they had to stoop to slander and smear campaigning, merely to settle old scores. Juxtaposing the scenario, we observe that not a single day passes by when an Ahmadi or a christian doesn’t get wrongly accused on account of blasphemy by an opportunist like Richard Rich.

Next in line is Thomas Cromwell, who has vested agenda. He covertly works to lure the strayed Richard Rich into his bait. Thomas Cromwell is a mentality that incites the arson attack on girl’s school van in Panjgor, Baluchistan, triggers the shooting of Malala Yousaf Zai and provokes family members to stone pregnant Farzana Parvin to death in bright daylight. Thomas Cromwell is not part of the mob, in fact he incites Mob mentality across the country.

Another highly eccentric character is that of King Henry VIII. He is portrayed as a flirting romanticist and at the same time a despotic dictator who toys with the constitution, religious norms and people’s fates — merely to grind his own axe.(To put things in the play in perspective, King Henry VIII resorts to religious reforms solely to marry Anne Boleyn. This leads to a reformation movement that turns the religious landscape in the country topsy turvy).

Throughout history, the shenanigans of a myriad of political leaders in Pakistan have stacked them with the likes of King Henry vIII.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a hitherto secular, drafts a constitution that ostracises minorities from the social fabric, summons the second islamic conference in Lahore and forms an Islamic Bloc to entertain his cheeky ambitions of becoming the leader of Muslim world. That changes the socio politico landscape of Pakistan for good.

Bhutto’s nemesis Zia Ul Haq is no different to King henry VIII either. In quest of the holy grail, he abets Americans to outsmart the communists in Afghanistan by engendering militancy. He virtually takes Bhutto’s Islamisation campaign to the next level by leveraging cold war to his own advantage. he drafts the Haddood ordinance and tightens noose over the minorities by reinforcing the blasphemy law through the infamous ordinance XX.

All of these character are still playing their part virtually according to the script in Today’s Pakistan, that has been officially turned into a confused milieu. The only difference is that the likes of Lord Thomas More are getting scant with every passing day. Where as unscrupulous Richard Rich are being empowered by the Thomas Cromwell mafia of the society.

On the other hand King Henry VIII every now and then, finds a way out to bend rules with utter impunity in order to safeguard his personal interests.

As far as Rule of law and Justice are concerned, well they are attributed with slang like RIP in the land of the pure.