From Sialkot with tears

DailyTimes  |  Dec 05, 2021

Hard to write on the heart wrenching unfortunate Sialkot incident. No law, no religion no philosophy, no worldly or divine decree allow such inhuman acts.

Of all our religion Islam which is a religion of peace, where the creator is “Rabul Aalameen” and not “Rabul Muslimeen”, our holy Prophet has been divinely blessed with “Rehmatulil Aalameen” not “Rehmatul Lil Muslimeen”.

Confining that universal compassion of the Holy Prophet to a particular religion, sect or nation alone is a negation of that attribution. Can that religion of peace allow such acts?

Having delinked Islamic teaching or doctrines from the inhuman act of Sialkot, what then prompted such eventuality?

In such events where emotions run high, there is massive adrenaline rush, objectivity is the main causality and it is hard to analyze the issue objectively but a more laser focused, deep diving in to the issue might put it in real perspective.

To understand the dynamics of such incidents it is critically important that we understand the issue in 360 degree fashion.

The 1st point is the analysis of motives?

The mere look of the gathering of an unruly mob posing as lovers of holy prophet demystify the issue.

Most of them were daily wagers, manual workers, uneducated and unemployed youth, fanned by few semiliterate bigots. If could have asked about the basic tenants of Islam, even simple “Duae Qunoot” the mystery would have been resolved to the world astonishment. More exploration perhaps would be a mere jaw dropper.

Early to comment but in all such incidents there are private reasons of settling scores, which in this case might be disciplinary action against some staff initiated by the victim or not toeing someone line ?

Blasphemy charge is the most easily sold and least questioned tool with devastating consequences. Sheer rumors, use of social media and WhatsApp use can be used for propagating the wrong messages.

Such is the power of social media especially when it’s related to negative message that people hardly bother to question the veracity of the news.

Once out, there is no scarcity of ignorant mob to take arms and settle for catastrophic eventualities.

It’s not the 1st time that we encountered such events. Going back to recent history, in 2006 caricature issue where damages worth billions was caused to a country that has pioneered the anti-blasphemy movement in the world itself, whose interests were served?

Same holds true in the incidence of Benazir Bhutto Martyrdom, those in the forefront of loot, plunder and putting to blaze everything, were not even PPP workers. Why then the spree?

In another incident last November a security guard killed a bank manager Malik Imran Hanif for committing blasphemy. Such was the jubilation of the crowd at that point that they kissed the killers hands and chanted slogans in support of the killer.

It was his uncle and later the police investigation which unearthed the real motive which was the professional conflict painted carefully but dangerously as blasphemy. There is a pattern in all the incidences for those who can think. The question is why such acts are repeated in our society?

The main reason of course is the literacy level and our education system which hardly bother to enlighten students on sensitive issues.

The purpose of developed education system is to identify contemporary threats, carry out analysis and create a discourse around those issues.

The mere absence of constructive dialogue in our education institutions and subsequent buying off and internalization doesn’t seem happening. Religious schools too need to tread the same lines and it would portray the real Islam.

The other reason for a repeat of such incidents is the judicial system where decisions linger on for generations; justice delayed is justice denied and that serves a boost to the criminal mentality. The judicial system fault lines has high visibility.

Our police system is least prepared to manage such incidnets. Important to reform and equip our police system operationally, logistically and morally.

This needs appropriate legislation and constitutional cover incase police is expected to prevent heinous crimes.

At the heart of the problem is deep rooted social injustice, economic deprivation, marginalization and poor governance that hinders equal opportunities. Chronic deprivations orchestrate victim mentality which nurture frustration that in turn lead to aggression and that aggressive instincts search for avenues to vent out.

Usually soft targets as the case in point are utilized to let that frustration released in one form or the other.

This is more dangerous when religious strings are attached as it get simple unstoppable with a religious fervor; least knowing the real religion? The bigger the damage the greater their elation. In nut shell, it is a whole societal failure and require a logical discourse apart from urgent course correction measures that the government must work on with a speed of light.

More than ever, it is important that religious elites across the board carry out an open discourse “Ijmaa-e- Ummat) that can unanimously spell out Blasphemy definition, the process for case investigation, punishment, by whom, how much and how?

Media and academia should then amply disseminate the content and promote dialogue around this. Much can be avoided if managed wisely. It is encouraging that all civil, military and religious leadership including TLP unanimously condemned the incident and committed for bringing the perpetrators to justice, this would give a strong message that we as a nation minus few ignorant are for peace and human dignity. We have to act, act with prudence, act together and act faster.


Dr. Nadeem Jan (Tamgha I Imtiaz) is an internationally recognized public health, policy expert, who has had an illustrious career with UN, USAID, World Bank, Gates Foundation and various countries. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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