Street Justice

In South Asia on 21. August 2010 at 19:33

In a society where poor education and health systems are common, where politicians enrich on corruption and where laws are put aside for personal benefits for strongmen, in such society anarchy will prevail and street justice will be implemented.

Pakistan has been affected by the worst floods in 80 years due to torrential monsoon raining. Almost 10 percent of its population is affected and one fifth of its area is submerged under water. Another major disaster which is killing the society from within is the lack of governmental writ on its subjects and lawlessness in major parts of the country. Recently, two teenage brothers were lynched by a mob in Sialkot, a city in northern Punjab and their corpses were hanged upside down for display. The police stood within the mob and did nothing, while the people stood around and watched the scene. Cell phone camera recorded the whole incident and the terrible pictures are at our disposal on YouTube. Provincial government of Punjab did not react to this incident, neither did the federal authorities. The Supreme Court took notice of this and has put arrest warrants on the culprits.

How come, being fellow human beings, that people react with such brutal acts, even when the ethics and norms of all the major civilizations, religions and cultures preach against it?

Good neighbors in Nazi-Germany went against each others, while the whole society banished one ethnic and religious group which previously had contributed so much for the very society it were banished by. In the sub-continent during partition of British India into the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan in 1947 it is estimated that between 200.000 and 1 million people were slaughtered in the violence which erupted. These people were previously living peacefully in a multi religious society and suddenly, by the loss of home they turned violent. The absence of law was also a major reason why the violence kept going on.

In 1953, the city of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab province of Pakistan were under heavy fire when persecution of Ahmadis were launched by Maudoodi and his Jamaat-e-Islami. Maudoodi threatened days before that if the government did not declare Ahmadis as non Muslims in the constitution they would themselves “impose God’s justice on earth”. More than 2.000 Ahmadis were killed, followed by dismissal of government officials who were by faith Ahmadis, among them Sir Zafrulla Khan a prominent Foreign Minister and close supporter of Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

In 1984, Indian security forces on the orders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched Operation Blue Star against Sikh rebels who had barracked themselves inside the golden temple in Amritsar. Operation was successful and the separatist movement was quashed, but with the cost of the lives of innocent civilians and denigration of Sikh holy places. Some Sikhs felt this to be a personal attack against their faith and Indira Gandhi was assassinated by here Sikh bodyguard following the Operation. This in turn led to pogroms on Sikhs in the capital New Delhi. Persecution was led by Congress party members, the party which have governmental power today and which preached non-violent struggle, coined by Mohandas Gandhi. Death tolls were between 10 to 17.000, followed by discrimination and suspicion on Sikhs for a long time. India took this case into investigation, the nation were ashamed and those guilty of pogroms were persecuted, but such wounds are hard to heal.

Even with such a devastating example, the persecution on different religious minorities has not stopped. A long conflict in between Muslims and Hindus in Gujarat started in the 90s. It was followed by several massacres on both sides and officials are reported to be behind such attacks. Christians in India are targeted by extremist Hindu organizations to convert while Sikhs and Shia Muslims in Pakistani tribal areas are the favorite victims of Taliban to show their strength and horror.

Before such events show up, people in a normal peaceful society do not seems to have problems with faiths or ethnicities, then suddenly like a bombshell all hell breaks loose and good neighbors turns to be enemies. This happens in all parts of the world and underneath lies the frustration because of the lack of basic needs as jobs, shelter and a decent future. When in addition the law only applies for the weaker citizens and some groups runs parallel societies it is hard to implement governmental writ even in major cities and areas. Karachi the financial capital is a victim of political target killings which have resulted in 800+ deaths since New Year. With deaths and killings being everyday statistics on news the value of human being surely decreases.

The two brothers in Sialkot were accused of being terrorists. If so, normal routine is to provide evidence and launch a case in the courts, not by torture in public and lynching in front of the silent law and order agencies. On some forums some people have also suggested that Indian intelligence is involved in this, that Pakistanis would never do such a thing. It seems like that with the lack of law and security, logic and reason have also departed from people’s mentality. Pakistanis seriously needs to look in their own backyard, in their own neighborhoods and their own mentality to really solve these problems. The nation needs court orders to punish officials and criminals involved in such attacks, only then can the society move on. And it is worth to notice that this is not a single incident. It is up to the society itself to really put an effort to make tolerance and respect for law highly important values.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the architect of Pakistan, had a different vision for this nation. He might be turning in his grave now realizing what its ungrateful citizens have done to it for the past six decades. Today as a society we should be shameful.


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