Terror and mischief
Farzana is not the first woman to be killed by her own family members. Worryingly enough, she is not going to be the last either. This violence is also not just restricted to a certain section or ethnic group. A few years ago, Samia Sarwar, belonging to a wealthy merchant family of Peshawar, was killed in similar fashion by a hired assassin who accompanied the mother of the hapless girl. Cultural norms and the clergy happily joined hands to ensure that the murderers walked out of the court scoffing at our legal system. No one killed Samia. No one burnt Fakhira. No one murdered Farzana. Ignorance is bliss.
And now, look at the kind of discourse our media is most concerned about. A month ago, Mr Mubashir Luqman, a self-appointed guardian of the faith and ideology of Pakistan (if there is any such thing) tried to poison civil-military relations by claiming that the army chief did not salute the prime minister when he received the latter in Gwadar. The mischievous motive of Mr Luqman was evident from the fact that he did not deem it fit to show and comment upon footage from a week later of a visit by the army chief to the office of the PM where he could be seen saluting the PM like a professional soldier. Section 131 of Pakistan’s Penal Code deals with the offence of mutiny and provides that whoever “attempts to seduce any such officer, soldier, sailor, or airman from his allegiance of his duty, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”. Mr Luqman is proactively encouraging mutiny among professional soldiers. The state however seems to be numb and helpless against this one-man demolition squad.
A few days ago, a human rights activist, Advocate Rashid Rehman, was killed in his chambers. It is alleged that he had been receiving threats over appearing on behalf of a young man wrongly accused of blasphemy charges. In the recent past we have seen many unfortunate victims of blasphemy at the hands of the inflammable masses. Given the sensitivity of the issue, we should not only stay away from wilful commitment of blasphemy but, at the same time, should not fan any issue that is even remotely connected with such allegations. However, some television anchors and media personalities have found ‘blasphemy charges’ to be a useful weapon of offence against rival channels. This new trend not only amounts to hitting below the belt but is also extremely ominous for our future. The electronic media is supposed to educate the viewers and work for social harmony. When mainstream television channels become harbingers of hate and doom and fan religious extremism, we should genuinely be concerned about the future of the country as a whole.
The South Asian region is undergoing a tremendous transformation. Two important elections in our neighbouring countries are going to redefine geostrategic forces. India is tipped to have a strong Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government under its charismatic leader. The Afghanistan presidential elections are going to establish a new phase in the life of ever-troubled Afghanistan. It is not difficult to predict that India and Afghanistan are going to enjoy stronger relations in the future. Is Pakistan going to play the role of a spoiler or is it going to become a partner in the new push for regional trade and development? What we need at this juncture of time is a strong government, which can make important strategic decisions in the right direction. Our security institutions should have been seen as the muscles of the government and the intelligence agencies as its eyes and ears. It is a deplorable state of affairs that our energies are being spent in useless domestic pursuits. It is high time that the government is seen firmly governing and calling the shots. There are many laws which, if enforced, can silence some guns that are wasting our ammunition and glamourising mischief and schisms. The writ of the state needs to be established in Islamabad and Lahore before we march towards the tribal territories.