This is the way

November 24, 2020

I sometimes wonder how incidents of rape are discussed and interpreted in male baithaks in Pakistan. Do they acknowledge the grisly nature of such crimes or just skim over the details out of...

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I sometimes wonder how incidents of rape are discussed and interpreted in male baithaks in Pakistan. Do they acknowledge the grisly nature of such crimes or just skim over the details out of discomfort?

Men like ASI Mohammad Bux Buriro of Kashmore, of course, are few and far between. He used his own daughter as bait to lure and arrest the rapists of a mother and her four-year-old child. ASI Buriro didn't have to do what he did. He, too, could have behaved like CCPO Lahore Umar Shaikh, who among other things is notorious for his insensitivity to the Sahiwal Motorway rape victim.

What makes Mohammad Bux Buriro different from most men is not just his conscience and empathy. It is bravery. He obviously must have been scared of the plan backfiring, yet he used his own daughter as bait to arrest the paedophile rapists. It’s this act of bravery despite the fear that makes him special. The image of the ASI crying at the ceremony held in his honour is one that this country will not forget for a very long time.

However, it needs to be said that there is something fundamentally wrong with a society where religious parties bury their heads in the sand over the rape and plunder of women and children, but come out in droves to hold the capital city hostage in protest against another country causing offence to the religion. It surely doesn't have to be a choice between the two. Why don't they come out on the streets against both violations?

It appears that religious parties opt for silence when it comes to the rape of women and children because they believe such incidents have the potential to tarnish and hence question the patriarchal nature of our society, and that fear boils down to self-preservation. This bizarre behaviour could be an indication that humans who filtered down to a single species, the Homo sapiens, are not yet done with eliminating competition. The situation would have to crumble to immense depths to even entertain this notion. Unfortunately, it has. The horrific rape of a mother and her four-year-old child in Kashmore, Sindh, tells us that we are in an intra-species war. Not for argument's sake but to simply understand why incidents like the one in Kashmore keep on happening and what needs to be done to make them stop; there are several questions that arise in no particular order.

One, what if the mother hadn't run into ASI Mohammad Bux Buriro but some other policeman who didn’t have a daughter or wasn’t willing to use his child as bait, or didn't have the empathy to do so? It was mere chance or luck that the mother met ASI Buriro. Had there been a system or protocol in place for such an eventuality, I doubt if ASI Buriro’s bravery would have garnered such attention.

Two, why would an ASI find himself in a situation where his conscience afforded him no option but to use his own daughter as bait? The reason is that there are no policewomen in Kashmore, and probably weren’t any ever either. It's frowned upon in that area for women to join the police force. Whether that’s because there’s something wrong with the profession itself or that society hasn't progressed enough are matters that need to be dealt with separately. But for a father to place his own daughter at risk because of lack of women in this precinct highlights the urgent need for disrupting this gender discriminatory status quo, starting from Kashmore.

Three, why did the rapists feel secure enough to let the mother go while holding the child hostage? Did they not fear that she might seek police help? Were they dumb or simply confident that the police would remain inactive? Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure; they weren’t scared of the police. And they were apparently not deterred by the legal system either.

Four, what will happen to the mother and child? How will they survive the scars and the trauma?

The main culprit, who raped the mother and her four-year-old child, was later killed by his accomplice in a shootout. It’s a relief to know that Pakistan has one less monster, but it also kind of feels like the culprit got off easy. Prisons are known to be never kind to paedophiles and life in that kind of hell may have served him right. But knowing how broken the system is, who knows how far or less the matter would have proceeded.

For the Kashmore police an addendum to the Mandalorian code: ‘This is the way’, at least for now.

The writer is an executive producer, Geo News and editor of Jang – The Economist annual edition.

Twitter: munazza193

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