An Unfortunate Mindset

You know there is a very fine line, thin and almost obscure, which connects the mindset which deems it ok to insult someone in public by calling them names – especially when the person in question is of the opposite gender – and the mindset which is ok with ‘light beating’ of wives to be ok for things which are not ‘acceptable’ in terms of their behavior.

This very thin line of connection whilst cannot be seen so easily and to the naked eye is actually one of many big problems with us. And it’s a problem not just in one way or one level. Multiple ways. It’s an entire thought process or school of thought if you will which isn’t really the produce of a well-researched and intellectual think tank or anything of that sort. Just the opposite. Fueled by an ignorant and ancient mindset which refuses to embrace good for humanity and wants to continue ruling with their veil of ignorance on top of everyone to stay in their positions of power and influence. I am sure it won’t require any rocket science to guess who I am referring to.

But that’s one of the things. We are ok dissecting and discussing it in drawing rooms and condemning it as if it was the most natural thing to come to us. Whereas upon closer introspection you might find that one some levels you are just as ignorant. Ok maybe not ‘just as ignorant’ but definitely more ignorant than you would like to admit.

Khawaja Asif’s remarks in the Parliament against Shireen Mazari were uncalled for, unbecoming and definitely not something that should be part of the nation’s parliament much less coming from a federal minister for crying out loud. It was not the first time from Khawaja Asif and definitely not the first time in the history of the country. There have been many incidents in the past involving women parliamentarians of all parties. Benazir Bhutto too had to face such ridicule.

It is sad that such things happen. But these things happen not just here – they happen in other parts of the world as well. So this is actually a bigger problem world over especially with the whole ceiling on women’s achievements and growth and success etc. Till we as a whole get out of this need to differentiate between genders in the professional realm – things will remain the same.

This discrimination and mindset world over is there but perhaps most parts of the world have become a bit more subtle and sophisticated so they don’t tend to boil over like it still does here. It was also unbecoming of people chiming in with ‘Keep quite aunty’ etc. It was also unbecoming of others present there not doing enough to control the situation and try and make amends immediately. Surely this is not something which cannot transcend different political party lines. Respect and all?

Sadly it doesn’t. It is this very mindset which will perhaps condemn the light beating issue of the CII (the wonderful people that they are) but will actually internally agree with them and then well who knows what happens in their households. It is the same ignorant and ‘jaahil’ soch that thinks it is ok to go around beating the weaker sex. As is the case. It is the same mindset which then goes on to connect with other problems like honor killing and all. The one which would most likely look down upon the victim of a rape and take out their flaws and faults which led to the crime rather than look at the perpetrator.

It is the mindset which thinks it’s a man’s world and only men are allowed to be kings and rulers and have every single inch of power available in this world. And that anything else is here to be man’s objects of desire, use and rejection. It is unfortunate that such a mindset occupies the parliament of our country. It is unfortunate that such a mindset is allowed to spew negativity towards development. It is unfortunate that we have not done enough to battle this mindset.

It is this mindset which has for years continued being an obstacle towards girls education. It is this mindset which has given liberty to elements like TTP and the like to go about attacking and murdering innocents, destroying structures and lives, vanquishing dreams and hopes. It is this mindset which is unfortunate and which hasn’t been dealt with where it needs to be dealt with the most – in the mind. The military operation has beat the TTP in the background. But the social fabric of our society is still suffering.

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The Shahzeb Khan Murder Case

The murderers have been pardoned in the name of Allah, so said the parents of Shahzeb Khan. He was their son and of course they have every right to take whatever decision they feel is in the best interest and be answerable to Allah for these decisions.

‘We may not have forgiven them in our hearts but we have pardoned them in the name of Allah’ said the mother.
‘We have taken this decision after taking everything into consideration – I have taken it for the betterment of all involved. I know what I am doing. I have left it to Allah and in his name we have pardoned them’ said Aurungzeb Khan – the father – on a Shahzeb Khanzada’s talk show on Express yesterday.

They have on media at least denied any pressure, coercion, threat or deals of 25 crores and moves to Australia (something that has been turning the rumor mill quite aggressively since the last couple of days).

So yes. They are the parents and they have exercised their rights to pardon the killers. But something is not right here. Something is not right for all those who stood up, raised their voices, drove the social media against the culprits. Something is not right for even the media anchors who took it upon themselves to cover this story to the absolute (for whatever motivation they may have had). Something is not right when a citizen of the state was mowed down and shot several times in cold blood in public and the killer walks away scot free after ‘some’ months of ‘inconvenience’. Not to mention the whole Victory Sign waving clearly pointing to the absence of any remorse.

‘Shahzeb Khan’s parents : we fought for your son, you didn’t’ – a blog titled on the Express Tribune’s blog site- the title clearly shows some amount of trust damaged in the people and the good of this country. Sentiment hurt over justice being snatched away after it was well ordered if not served. That as long as you have money, and lots of it, you are more or less free – free to do as you please, free to loot, plunder and murder. Free to walk and breather corrupt and with malice. ‘He was shot then but he died today’.

But let’s all be a little fair – a little more human. If they have been pressurized into pardoning the murderers then they wouldn’t very well blurt it out on media or go public about that. Especially given they have their remaining children (both daughters) to think about. Then the families associated with them. And the witnesses and their families and the others who have supported and helped them. So even if this has happened – then in all fairness question first what you would have done in their place. Made the deal and sought a ‘maybe’ more secure and safe future for your daughters and the others involved or a not at all safe future infested with enmity rich powerful families. I am not justifying the actions but I am not willing to condemn them either if this is indeed the case. As for the points about the Australian exit and settlement – that could be the media and rumor mill working in overdrive and could not be. I wouldn’t comment on that.

So instead of focusing on the parents and why they took the decision that they did. And the subsequent family infighting that has followed (as was evident from the Shahzeb Khanzada’s show on Express News yesterday). Why not ask the following? Why is the state not taking any action? Isn’t this essentially a crime against the state? Isn’t this a danger against the citizens of the state? Why are some of the otherwise outspoken politicians and leaders silent on this issue? Where is the Naya Pakistan? Where is the ‘Court of Chaudry’ otherwise so active in stamping its authority?

Something is surely not right here but one simply can’t blame the parents and say ‘we did our part – they have let themselves down’.

The state and the justice system has failed in letting a murderer walk free while waving a victory sign and zero remorse.

Of Moral Corruption

I have been mulling over a few incidents that I have come across, heard about or seen in the news with regards to the degradation of the moral fabric of the social setup that we live in. This seems a little more on the forefront now as the incidents are becoming more frequent and glaring in our society and not just incidents of other countries. Ranging from domestic violence to abuse to adultery to murder. Of course the common reader will say that this has been there in Pakistan for a long time – the rural areas will testify to that. And some pockets of urban and semi urban areas. That holding true doesn’t make it any less disturbing. And all said and done it has increased and increased in a way which is making the moral fabric of the society more and more corrupt.

We already face terrorist attacks, target killings, sectarian violence, ethnic violence and religious intolerance. That much is evident in the following:

· We have lost almost 5000 people to terrorist attacks since 2008 pan Pakistan (source: http://tribune.com.pk/story/527016/pakistani-victims-war-on-terror-toll-put-at-49000/)

· Data collected through open sources suggested that some 2,674 people lost their lives in 1,108 incidents of violence across the country from January to April of this year(Source: Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), http://x.dawn.com/2013/05/05/2670-people-killed-in-pakistan-in-four-months/)

· In the last 18 months, 203 incidents of sectarian violence in Pakistan resulted in 1,800 casualties, including 717 deaths, of which 635 were Shia (source: US Commission on International Human Rights,http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C07%5C19%5Cstory_19-7-2013_pg12_1)

· There were at least 1,636 “honor killings” last year, said Pakistani rights group The Aurat Foundation (http://beta.dawn.com/news/777491/pakistani-women-turn-to-once-taboo-divorce-to-escape-abuse)

But these are all things we see and read in the news on a daily basis. So we are tuned into this statistic even if we don’t know it. Post 9/11 terrorism has increased. We have had spates of religious intolerance from time to time. Ethnic clashes are not new.

When husbands and wives start getting murdered by their better halves, or when a man (who is otherwise doing perfectly well in his life) murders his family of 4 and then commits suicide, when there seems to be a level of acceptance at it being ok for someone to break another home (cause of divorce) or even without any influence the number of homes that are broken.  (the rate of divorce has drastically increased in the last decade. In Islamabad alone the number of divorces increased from 208 in 2002 to 557 in 2011). I was note able to gather any statistics online for 2012 / 13 but I know I have heard a lot of cases personally from various sources.

There is an increase in the number of children going astray, leaving basic good values far behind. Recent cases of kids getting involved in shooting/murders of other kids as a result of some bust up (Shahrukh Jatoi, Shahzeb Khan, Hamza Jawad etc) are examples of this. Then there are other things as well – the wonderful parties where everything is magical because they all smoked up, did pot or that miracle drug called ecstasy. Then there are cases of some kids even running away from homes to be with the ‘loves of their lives’.

These are just a few examples and by no means generalize the society at large. But the fact is that these are all different problems pertaining to different people. And they are chewing at the moral fabric of our society. Just yesterday I heard about two cases, almost similar, where the husband was murdered by his wife and her lover.

Even when we talk about the above mentioned national level problems – ethnic violence, religious intolerance etc. The fact remains that as a nation we are seeming inclined towards immunity rather than action. The philosophy in general seems to be ‘Damn this is really bad shit happening. Ok time to go to work’. We are more or less in a state of accepting all that is wrong rather than standing up against it and demanding a change or some sort of action (this for the problems that are happening at national level more so then on an individual scale). The individual level issues demand prayer. And a close look at ourselves.

We are standing dangerously close to losing basic moral fabrics from our social structure and I for one feel very disturbed and at a certain level helpless at this state of affairs. Years from now if this path isn’t changed we will be asked by those future generations ‘What did you do when the decay started?’ and all we would be able to answer ‘We stood and watched as the devil celebrated every moral fibre’s breaking’