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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Lynching in Sialkot – Why Being Ashamed is Not Enough

Pakistan's toxic political culture and confused state vision for nationhood have created extreme contradictions, which have thrown it on a self-destructive path.

By Jay Rover

Many perpetrators of cold-blooded murder are in custody. But will they be punished?

The Pakistani media, politicians and everyone under the sun are in a mad run to condemn the gruesome murder of a Sri Lankan national by a mob in Sialkot. The shocking videos and photos of the despicable action have set social media on fire. The Land of the Pure is once again in the headlines and of course, not surprisingly, for terrible reasons.

Pakistani social media users’ expressions of being ashamed to be Muslims, or Pakistanis or whatever have flooded Twitter and other platforms. International organizations like Amnesty International and others have not just condemned the incident but demanded justice for the victim Priyantha Kumara Diyawadanage.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also condemned the murder and promised justice while Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has also condemned the incident and hoped that Khan will live up to his promise of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

In a country with a terrible record of bringing to justice the perpetrators of heinous crimes, hopes cannot be kept too high. Its corrupt-to-the-core judicial system is known to have rewarded rather than punished the criminals. And don’t forget the state institutions which have a history of paying for the bus tickets of fanatics who successfully blackmailed the government of the day in the past – remember Faisalabad Dharna – and the recent deal of the government to free hundred of Tehrik e Labaik Pakistan goons, among whom were the murderers of innocent policemen.

The insanity at the state level does not stop here. Ejaz Chaudhary, a senior leader of the ruling Tehrik e Insaf even visited (with Khan’s permission) the TLP leader after he was released like a hero by the state.

In such a public display of utter callousness, the million-dollar question arises that can the murder of Priyantha Kumara be any surprise, especially in a country where the state is directly or indirectly enabling extremism by rewarding fanatics for their murderous acts? Not really.

Pakistan’s toxic political culture and confused state vision for nationhood have created extreme contradictions, which have thrown it on a self-destructive path. From the deep state to Prime Minister Imran Khan and his political minions and the many pigmies sitting on the opposition benches, all have contributed to leading the country astray.

The cold-blooded murder of Priyantha Kumara Diyawadanage is a blot on the face of the Pakistani state and society which will be hard to clean unless its political elite, its self-serving state institutions, the clergy, its corrupt judiciary, and the people at large take a deep breath and take a self-correcting course. Otherwise, no one will have an answer to the powerful one-liner that a Twitter user Taylor’s vision had for the world:

Joining the growing list of ashamed Pakistanis, I extend my deepest apologies to the people of Sri Lanka for the heart-wrenching incident and promise to use these columns to condemn and expose the beasts in the Pakistani society who are bringing terrible name and shame to otherwise a very decent and fine people. The animals who perpetrated this crime are not Pakistanis. They are not even human beings and deserve the toughest possible punishment under Pakistani law.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, your credibility and the credibility of an entire nation are at stake. Deliver justice now.

A word of caution for Pakistan’s political elite – be part of the movement to reform the adrift society or, be rest assured, both are doomed.

The writer is a New York-based Pakistani-American writer

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