Friday, August 27, 2010

In Defense of the Sialkot Mob


Recently a video went viral in Pakistan. It showed the brutal lynching of two brothers in a village near Sialkot. The video was shown on almost all news channels and the Chief Justice was forced into taking action. Political parties jumped in to gain brownie points by riding the wave of anger and horror at this incident.

Dozens of people get killed in Pakistan everyday. Some are kidnapped and then their throats are slit as the victim’s family was not able to collect the requisite ransom on time. Others are just shot dead over petty crimes. Anyone hailing from Karachi knows exactly what it feels like to have a gun pointed at you and then asked for your wallet and mobile phone. On many occasions these young gung-ho mobile thieves shoot the innocent victims if any resistance whatsoever is shown. The sad part is that many young criminals belong to educated and well to do families. They might well be "hafiz-e-quran" but that is no guarantee that the next guy on a motor bike steeling your phone isn’t. The kidnapping scene in Pukhtunkhwa is also very hot and if you notice a car slowing down near you then you might find yourself in the middle of such a scene.  The interesting part is that almost every official in Pukhtunkhwa knows who the kidnapper is, who is probably present in a lawless area and these officials are the ones who actually guarantee your safe delivery once the ransom is paid which is kind of ironic in itself.

The justice in Pakistan is far from ideal. Most robberies are rumored to be the handiwork of police officers in our country. Criminals and our security forces are thought to work together on many occasions. On top of it, most areas in our country hardly have any security presence. People are left to fend for themselves by keeping guns in their homes. Pakistan happens to be a very well armed country where almost everyone has some form of fire arm in his position which would most likely be used in self defense. The taliban’s initial claim to fame was that they eliminated crime all together from there areas which made them immensely popular. Hardened criminals and mafias were hung from posts in the center of the cities. Most people ridicule the Taliban (rightly so) but also forget that these people had a very effective justice system which produced really brilliant results. If somebody kills your family member then going to court after the killer is even worse than the suffering you just endured. Lawyers would fleece you out of your money and the judge would delay the hearing for years to come. Meanwhile the killers would threaten you with dire consequences and if the killers belong to some respectable family then they would have the decency to offer some sort of blood money in return for a withdrawal of case. And did i mention that probably no one would be willing to testify in court, witnesses are just not willing to go to a police station or record a statement in court. Since your anger and your grief are no longer as intense after being fleeced by lawyers hence you would very likely except that blood money and see the killer of your relative go completely free, probably with a big smile on his face.

Most people accuse the mob in Sialkot of being barbaric which they probably were but forget that there are equally barbaric punishments in our own justice system or even in Islam. There is great controversy surrounding the actual events. Some people say that the two brothers were involved in a robbery and shot three people when they were surrounded by a crowd and were only lynched when news spread of the death of one of the victims called Bilal. A second victim is still in coma. There is a high level inquiry going on right now but if the facts come out that these brothers actually were killers then I would have to defend the mob. Our elites who accuse them of barbarism have never provided these people with a justice system. As long as there isn’t a justice system in our country then no one has the right to point fingers and accuse these people of barbarism. In the absence of a justice system, this was justice in its purest form. Criminals in Pakistan have little fear of the system which works in their favor. The people of Pakistan will break these chains of slavery once in a while to prove a point, that if justice is not delivered then they are willing to take the law into their hands. There is a huge deficit of trust in the system.

I have also seen people mixing this incident with the attacks on Ahmedis. There is no comparison between the two except that both were violent incidence. The Ahmedi issue is the result of years of bigotry preached at the pulpit where as the Sialkot mob was a direct result of a lack of trust in the police and the judiciary. If an efficient justice system is not devised, especially for crimes that our becoming everyday occurrences then this trust would erode further. There is an atmosphere of fear in Pakistan because of the current wave of crime and I wish that the honorable Chief Justice, instead of taking suo moto notices devises a much broader strategy which involves police to tackle this wave of crime. There are many violent crimes where no videos are ever made hence they never come in the limelight.We need to come out of this shock, and start thinking clearly. We should stop accusing Pakistanis of being barbaric. Gross generalization or suo moto notices do not cure the ill. Justice needs to be served for all those crimes where there is no camera present.

Post Script: I would like to thank DIG Gujranwala, Mr Zulfiqar Cheema for his honest work in the area and the elimination of crime and many famous mafia and crime bosses in encounters. Controversial but very very effective.

I would also like to point out how our moral brigade (elites) are pathetically immune to the religious slaughter that takes place every day. Just today (2/9/2010), several Shiite processions were bombed and fired upon killing thirty people in Lahore, Multan and Karachi. Religious shrines are bombed and desecrated and Ahmedis are brutally murdered but this elitest moral brigade points fingers at Black Water, RAW and CIA. It is capable of coming up with the most outlandish forms of conspiracy theories to justify these incidents. They don't go raving mad about such incidents. It is clear that our madressa system is feeding these terrorists but not a single person has the audacity to blame them. This elitest moral brigade consists of cowards of the highest order, who listen to people like Dr Israr who openly calls for the slaughter of Ahmedis. They are fond of Zakir Naik who pays the highest respect to Yazid. When a sectarian madressa (laal masjid) which openly propagated violence in the capital Islamabad, these moral elites came for their defense. Instead of going raving mad about closing all such institutions they chose to defend them instead. Frankly the outrage over the video has nothing to do with brutality or violence but it has everything to do with how naive the people of Pakistan are. The attacks on the Shiite procession in Lahore and Karachi would quickly be forgotten. The dead body parts shown by Geo would fail to produce the least sense of moral outrage. Their would be no countrywide campaigns calling for the closure of sectarian madressas and outfits. But if two thieves are slaughtered then all hell breaks lose. Hypocrisy at its best.


  1. I am sorry, but your argument is hugely faulty in trying to stand out from the prevailing opinion and being controversial. You said that IF the brothers are found to be responsible for the shootout and death preceding their lynching. The whole point is what if they were NOT? Without due process of any type or kind, giving mobs the authority to decide who to eliminate will lead to more innocent deaths than those of criminals. And in eulogizing Taliban, you forgot that their justice system also targets mostly innocent people who disagree with them and are unfortunate to be living under their rule, not true criminals. True criminals simply find new territories to operate in. Replacing injustice with fear and brutality does not solve the problem, unfortunately.
    Post Script: Mr. Cheema may be the root cause of the lynching in Sialkot.

  2. My whole point is that suo moto notices don't work. You have an extremely corrupt justice and police system. Fix that.

    And no, i wasn't eulogizing the taliban. I was simply relaying a fact. The only reason for Taliban being popular was that criminals who would operate with impunity were slaughtered with impunity when the taliban came into power. And god forbid that they ever came to power but ask anyone from KP about how they eliminated one of the most powerful crime bosses in the region. You can on the other hand live in denial about the popularity of the taliban.

    Just the other day, four people were killed by dacoits in karachi. Their only crime was that they resisted mobile phone theft. Has our system captured any mobile phone robber or convicted anyone for murder? No.

    Mr Cheema eliminated crime from Gujranwala which is more important. You would only understand that if someone you know got killed in a robbery or got kidnapped for ransom. When the two robbers were burnt alive in Karachi than no robber had the guts to rob anyone for months. We need something effective. Their is no justice in our justice system hence no one can accuse anyone of barbarism.

    Even today, the people of swat are getting sick of the administration there and our longing for the taliban. If something drastic isn't done apart from suo moto notices then they will definitely make a comeback.

  3. A second irritating aspect of the whole situation is that the two brothers are being presented as innocent.

    The true facts are that these brothers were surrounded while they attempted robbery. They fired shots into the crowd to escape but fortunately their bullets ran out. Three people were shot, one of them died of his wounds while the other is still in coma. The mob then grabbed hold of the two boys, but soon the news of the death of one of the victims spread.

    Only Firdaus Ashiq Awan had the audacity to take the unpopular position in favor of the actual victims of the incident. She went and visited the widow of the victim who again positively identified the two criminals.

    At least get the facts straightened out.

  4. And what due process are you talking about. There is no "PROCESS" in Pakistan. First fix that, and then accuse anyone of barbarism.