Law of the Jungle in Pakistan

Brutalised society
Dawn Editorial, 18 Sep, 2010

VIOLENCE is an expected consequence in a society where want and deprivation are the norm. It is not surprising that deteriorating conditions in Pakistan, amongst them spiralling poverty and a worsening security situation, have rendered society brutal to the extreme. It seems that employing violent means comes almost naturally to a citizenry that has witnessed countless atrocities that include mass killings, suicide bombings, lynchings, beheadings and the stringing up of corpses by groups such as the Taliban. While these grim realities can be used as a route to understanding how Pakistanis have become inured to violence, there are many individual cases where the scale of brutality simply beggars belief, and points to the lava that may erupt at any point from the simmering volcano that is Pakistan. One of these was Thursday’s incident in Gujrat, when a man was bludgeoned to death over a minor traffic row. Eyewitnesses say that the victim, Tariq Mahmood, narrowly avoided a collision with a motorbike. An argument ensued after which the bikers, whose apparel indicated their association with the legal fraternity, started hitting the car driver. Mahmood took refuge in his car but the enraged bikers, joined by three of their colleagues, broke the car windows, pulled him out and beat him with bricks until he was dead.

The tragedy, coming so soon after the lynching of two brothers in Sialkot, makes us wonder how far Pakistani society is from the level of beasts. The incident reminds us that education or even a certain social level — as indicated by the men’s garb and mode of transport — is no bar to brutality. Deplorable too, as in the Sialkot case, was the role played by the police: they stood by and watched. An eyewitness says that he appealed to three policemen present a few yards away but they refused to intervene on the truly shocking pretext that they had been deputed merely to check vehicles. Neither did they make any attempt to apprehend the killers. Quite clearly, matters in Pakistan are rapidly reaching such a pass that the rule of law is being replaced by the law of the jungle.

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