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    South Asia
     Jun 2, '14

Farzana Parveen stoning shames Pakistan
By Mahboob A Khawaja

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

Farzana Parveen was just 25 years old born alone and died alone. The autopsy will show she did not die by natural causes but was stoned to death. She did not commit any crime except incurring the dislike of her own parents and family members by her decision to marry Mohammad Iqbal. They viewed it a matter of honor and conspired to kill Farzana.

The terrifying scene portrayed in the global news media showed hundreds of spectators witnessing the most horrifying crime to human nature, not in darkness but in broad daylight, and right where freedom, human dignity, and honor of the citizens should

have been protected - the Lahore High Court compound with police in attendance.

It is incredibly shameful to be a Pakistani and to watch this inhuman atrocity out of the nowhere. Why the police did not offer protection to Farzana? Farzana's soul must be wondering, why did society not protect her against this draconian act of violence? Where are the concerned citizens who claim to be believers - the Muslims who day and night talk about Islam as being the faith and value of their society?

The truth is that Farzana is not the first victim of such a horrible tragedy. Every day, countless Farzans become the object of the powerful monsters of this beleaguered and mindless trend of the society. There was no Islam and no believing Muslims as Farzana was being stoned to death; nobody came to rescue her. Her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, begged the spectators to save his wife but none of them offered to help save Farzana from the stoning.

Is Pakistani society fast becoming a morally corrupt and dead-ended nation? Iqbal disclosed that "police did nothing" during the 15 minutes the violence lasted at the Lahore High Court. "I begged them to help us but they said, this is not our duty," he said. "I took off my shirt [to be humble] and begged them to save her."

Jill Reilly and Mia De Graaf reported in the UK's Daily Mail that:
The 25-year-old had offended her family by marrying Iqbal instead of a cousin selected for her. Honor killings are common in Pakistan, but the brutality of this case caused outrage around the world. Police said her father, two brothers and a former fiance were among the attackers. Muhammad Aurangzeb, Farzana's 20-year-old stepson, described how one relative had tried to shoot her, then grabbed her head scarf, causing her to fall over. While a member of Iqbal's party wrestled the gun away, a female cousin grabbed a brick and hit Farzana with it, he said. "She was screaming and crying 'don't kill me, we will give you money'," said Iqbal. He said he tried to save her but the mob of more than 20 beat him back. At one point, six people were beating her with bricks as she screamed, he said, and he and his stepson begged police to help. Finally she stopped screaming.
If the face of a human being is the mirror of the character, surely Farzana appears to be a decent, pious and respectable young lady. She was legally married to Mohammad Iqbal and was reportedly three months pregnant. None of her characteristics deserve this inhuman and sadistic atrocity by so many people watching the vengeful drama of the few. The nation's law and justice system is utterly perverted and politically tainted to the extent that nobody trusts it to get justice.

It is a society where crime-riddled politicians become leaders and known prostitutes take ministerial oaths. Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, General Pervez Musharraf - the list can go on ... the most heinous crimes are carried out by so-called politicians who loot the national wealth, buy fantasy mansions overseas, kill masses and run prostitution parlors, then take government office be it as assembly members or as prime ministers: how come they are not stoned to death in public?

Pakistani politics is devoid of ethical standards and political accountability. To a conscientious Pakistani, the embittered shame will not go away. After the fact, women and men of conscience across the nation and globe have expressed indignation and protests against such an act of vicious cruelty carried out at the premises of the place where law and justice should have been fully guarded.

But it was not. This is Pakistan, an emerging nation perpetuating individualistic interest and presenting choices to survive that are taken in complete disregard of the terrible consequences. Many observers point to a pattern of deafening silence on the part of the ruling elite to the insecurity that is embedded in society.

Just last year in Pakistan's Kohistan tribal region, four young women were ordered by a tribal-elder decree to be killed because they sang and watched as two men danced at a wedding party. The official investigating report never came to public attention as to why they were murdered? Who makes a legal decree in a country claiming to be an Islamic Republic? Officials debated the question as how to conduct an investigation in a region overwhelmingly without an official government presence and with no formal law and order.

However, Lahore is not a remote village in Kaghan Valley but an ancient city of several million people - a gateway to Asia - and would claim to be civilized and honorable in matters of moral conscience and human values. It was no tribal Kohistan to underscore official incompetence in investigating an inhuman atrocity.

There was a time after winning freedom from British colonial subjugation, common folk would dream of Islamic glory, human values and the triumph of progressive social harmony and peace across the new free nation. It appears that the dream has been shattered by so many years of martial law and criminal civilian rulers.

It seems more and more as if Pakistan, under corrupt and morally decadent leadership, is replicating the history of Romans. Colin Wilson in A Criminal History of Mankind (1984) explains how the Roman Empire declined once its sadistic and egomaniac leaders full of the sensation of power behaved like children, leaving the Roman civilization to collapse into chaos:
The Romans were slipping into violence by a process of self-justification, and once a nation or an individual has started down this particular slope, it is impossible to apply breaks. The Roman people were too unimaginative and short sighted to realize that, once murder has been justified on grounds of expediency, it can become a habit, then a disease.
The Pakistani nation claims faith in God as the core value of its nationhood, but the real world depicts a different picture. Last September, a church, a place to worship God, was burnt down reportedly by a Taliban mob in Peshawar - killing about 85 innocent citizens of the minority Christian community. The insane killers forgot that God is God of all the human beings, not just of the Muslims, and God loves all of his creations.

A few weeks earlier, 10 tourists were kidnapped and reportedly murdered by the Taliban in the mountainous K-2 region. Did anyone investigate and catch the perpetrators of such an inhuman crime? Does it not discourage the prospective tourists from ever visiting Pakistan? Again in late 2013, Muslims of the Shia minority were repeatedly bombed in Quetta. An Islamic group was blamed for the killing. The mourners kept the dead bodies on display for days as a token of protest, asking the military to safeguard their lives from in-house terrorism. It was clear that the citizens of the country were left unprotected from the gangsters and criminal elements of society.

In the short and long term, this loss of national image and human values is irreversible. The scope of sadistic cruelty and viciousness is enlarged every day, just as each day brings more killing of innocents. Yet, are any responsible people in government held accountable for the security of the nation?

For more than a decade, Pakistan has been engulfed by a culture of deadly events. Under corrupt and gangster-dominated politics, society is embracing kidnapping, threats of violence, deaths of civilians, destruction of the habitat - and has to contend with a lost sense of public security, diminishing trade and commerce, authoritarian trends in governance and sharp indifference to the sacred values of tolerance, respect for varied ethnic diversity and co-existence in a One Nation framework.

There is no political, moral or religious justification for the on-going killings. These appear to be inhuman and desperate acts by psychopaths who seek to undermine the interests and the present and future of the nation.

The mob thought that they could annihilate Farzana Parveen for ever but they failed miserably as they just killed her body not the soul. Today, there are thousands and millions of rising voices of reason asking for justice and protection of the rights of women in Pakistan and throughout the world. Why should women be targeted anywhere on the planet with acid attacks, rape, strangulation and stoning to death?

Pakistan continues to be governed by uneducated, indicted criminals and insane people who have no sense of time and history. The nation is fast-drowning in its own dreadful acts of indifference, faltering security and sickening history of killing its own people. You need intelligent and morally and intellectually capable leaders, not Bhuttos, not Zardaris, not Sharifs, but educated people of the new generation with an inward eye not to politicking but to safeguard the rights, freedom and security of citizens and a determination to transform the sadistic present into a promising future for all.

To change and reform its political governance, the Pakistani nation must think critically, face up to past misconceptions and errors of judgment and pursue political activism to bring intelligent people into political leadership, people who can share new visions for political change to safeguard the national interest, freedoms within the nation and its future.

No democracy, no political accountability and no normal law and order to protect the ordinary citizens exist in Pakistan. The country's politicians need a high-powered jolt to change the course of history-making for the people of Pakistan. That could come from the determination and resolve of the will of the people to ensure protection of the rights of all the citizens of the nation, their freedom and honor and human dignity. The voices of reason are gaining momentum and must be heard.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.

Dr Mahboob A Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking (Lambert Publishing, Germany, 2012).

(Copyright 2014 Mahboob A Khawaja)




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