A few days ago the Governor of the most populous province of Pakistan was murdered in broad daylight as he tried to enter his car in a busy shopping district. He was murdered by none other than a member of the very elite police team that had been assigned to protect him. The assassin was able to empty 27 bullets into the Governor’s body, and still no other guard on duty fired back at him. But why was the Governor murdered?
The assassin says he killed in the name of religion because the Governor had spoken out in support of a woman from a minority religion who is now on death row because she is alleged to have indulged in blasphemy against the prophet. And he believes that by association the Governor was also guilty of blasphemy. The Governor’s crime was that he advocated that a civilized society cannot penalize a woman with a law that relies on he said/she said proof of evidence to declare verdict. He died because he had called for a repeal of the hideous law that has been used repeatedly to terrorize religious minorities.
The above incident was enough to shock citizens of Pakistan everywhere. If one of the most powerful men in the country is not safe for advocating on behalf of the weak, and for sharing his opinions publicly, then what does it mean for the rest of us?
But the aftermath of this murder has been simply unbelievable. Horrible. The nation split apart whether to condone or condemn the act of the murderer. He was hailed as a religious hero by many, not just by people on the fringes but unfortunately by many mainstream politicians, religious leaders and educated people otherwise wasting life away on facebook. When he showed up on his first court hearing, he was showered with rose petals, people threw garlands around him, and 3000 lawyers filed petitions to represent him for free since he was a ‘hero’ in their eyes (see attached pic).
And that is when I wept. Unless the images in the media are lies, unless TV channels are making stuff up, unless people signing up on Facebook for fan pages of a murderer are imaginary….we are at unbelievable depths of our civility as a nation. Our nation has lost its soul, or at the very least its soul is taking last gasps before disappearing into oblivion. Pakistan’s primary concern is no longer religion, politics, democracy or economy…it is now simply about people learning how to be human again.
I am without words at what has transpired over the past few days. How did this happen? I only left Pakistan 15 years ago, and no, it wasn’t some piece of heaven on earth back then either…but I was proud of the history, heritage, culture and society I belonged to. How did we turn into a nation where we celebrated murders and glorified murderers? How did we turn into a society where teenagers now drop out of schools, colleges and jobs to memorize Quran and then kill innocent people, terrorize minorities, beat up women and blow themselves up?
I am mad at the happenings, but I am more sad and weakened by them. But that is today and I can only hope tomorrow will be better. I have now declared a personal jihad against religious extremism. It is an evil that has rotten Pakistani society to the very core. Pakistanis have to learn to be human first, it seems, before learning to be Muslim. We need to earn our place among civilized nations in the world because we are, apparently, still living in the dark ages. This nation, to which I still belong, needs to protect its dying soul. It may not be too late but its certainly time now. Its now or never.
Khurram Husain wrote this essay in The Express Tribune and is worth sharing here:
Cheer on my friends! Cheer on the assassin! Smile and clap your hands, chant odes to the ghazi’s bravery! Go ahead, applaud the darkness that is coming your way, because once it has taken you into its embrace, there’ll be no cheer left in your life.
Hail the assassin as your hero! Lift him up on your shoulders and show his brave deed to your children! Tell them to emulate his example and follow his footsteps! Kiss the ground he walked on! Congregate outside the prison that holds him and shout slogans so he hears your support through the walls. Because soon, the only heroes left in your life will be those with blood on their hands and death in their hearts.
Denounce the fallen governor! Denounce his licentious ways! Mock his speeches and drag his grieving wife and children through the dirt that is in your mind, your eyes! Question his faith: Was he a secret atheist? Fling all manner of filth and dirt on his name and his ways, for soon there’ll be nothing left in your minds, other than the filth of a faithless piety and the dirt of prejudice.
Sanctify the assassin’s bullet! Distill all your hatreds and frustrations into it! Place it on a pedestal and recite psalms of solemn servitude to it! Let it be the one fixed point in your life, your north star by which you navigate yourself towards your destiny! Let its line of travel, from muzzle to victim, be the straight and narrow path you seek to your salvation. May you find your victim one day too, just like the bullet found its. Yes, sanctify the bullet because soon it’ll light the way for you towards that destiny where you hold the knife in your hands and your hapless victim struggles vainly in your clutches.
While you’re at it, make a game out of it all. Clap, laugh and sing songs while the darkness falls all around you. Tell yourself silly little tales of how it’s all for the best because, after all, politicians are corrupt and deserve it all. Let the madness ooze into your puny minds without a struggle, since struggle in the path of what is right can get you killed.
Kiss the pages of the document where the ‘holy’ laws are written. Don’t read them, don’t think about what they say. Don’t ask questions about them, such as what the rules of evidence are under these laws or how the court is supposed to tell the difference between a true and false allegation. No, don’t do any of that, because soon these will be the only laws left in your life.
Do it, my friends! Because there is no ‘silent majority’ any more, only a frightened and confused flock hemmed in by the darkness, trembling at the howling of the hyenas around, huddled together under a vanishing light, barely enduring the great dark absence beyond.
No words will soothe their fears, no courage will call them to action. No strength exists any longer to lift this cowering multitude into the ranks of humanity, no mind’s eye to light the way for them.
So do it! Celebrate all manner of bloodlust because soon there will be nobody left in your life who can call murder by its name.