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Opinion

January 20, 2018

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Beyond politicking

The rape and murder of Zainab in Kasur is undoubtedly a lamentable incident that reflects the moral degradation within Pakistani society. This is not the first incident of this nature. Earlier, 11 children had been subjected to similar acts of bestiality in the district.

Such incidents are not only confined to Punjab alone and various cases of this nature have also surfaced from other provinces as well. But the deliberate attempts that have been made by various parties to politicise the issue has never been witnessed before. They have pinned all blame on the Punjab government and the provincial police.

Almost all the mainstream politicians rushed to Kasur. What they had to say about the incident appeared to be problematic as it added fuel to the fire. The line taken by PPP and PTI on the issue is absolutely condemnable as it highlighted their hypocritical posturing.

It is pertinent to point out that a similar incident took place in Karachi when the body of an eight-year-old was found near the stream in Korangi on January 17, 2017. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped and tortured to death. The question is: where was conscience of the provincial government when these incidents surfaced? Why didn’t they hold the government responsible for these incidents? Why were there no violent demonstrations against them?

Cases involving the rape and murder of minors have emerged from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well. But they have never stirred the conscience of the PTI leader. A five-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped and murdered in Nowshera on July 11, 2016. A three-year-old girl was abducted from Pabbi 0n April 2014. She was murdered after being raped. A six-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Mardan on August 22, 2016. In all these cases, CM Pervez Khattak merely announced financial compensation for the victims and their families. Surprisingly, the PTI chairman did not take any notice of these incidents.

It seems the Kasur incident has been deliberately used to put pressure on the Punjab government as well as the federal government under the prevailing political uncertainty. This is a shameful ploy. Such incidents reveal the harsh realities of our society and the collective efforts of the civil society, intellectuals, religious scholars and the media are needed to promote positive values in society. In addition, sustained efforts are required by parents and teachers to guide and sensitise children about the sinister advances by predators. These issues can be included in the primary school curricula to help children to understand the risks that they are exposed to.

The violent demonstration in Kasur, including the attack on the deputy commissioner’s office and the destruction of private and public property, seemed more politically motivated and can help reveal the sordid politics that is being played by our self-serving politicians. Instead of showing solidarity with the ongoing efforts to find Zainab’s murderer, they have deemed it appropriate to extract political mileage out of the incident.

Unfortunately, the media has also remained polarised on this matter. It has failed to play a positive role in creating a better understanding of the situation. The manner in which the event was covered by the media also reflected a strong bias. The media is expected to have a pluralist character and avoid insinuations that lead to chaos and anarchy. But this was regrettably missing.

The loss of human lives in the clashes between the rioters and the police is deplorable. But law-enforcement agencies across the world react to situations where people take the law in their hands or challenge the writ of the state.

Our politicians have to show some sense of responsibility and refrain from promoting tendencies that can ultimately destroy peace in society and come back to haunt them whenever they happen to win the franchise of the people. The media also needs to act with utmost responsibility in its capacity as the fourth pillar of the state.

Laws already exist to deal with rape and murder and the people should allow the government and its concerned agencies to do their job in a peaceful atmosphere. If this is done, the government will leave no stone unturned to apprehend Zainab’s perpetrator and bring him to book.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected]

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