Pakistanis have expressed shock at the brutal mob-lynching of two teenaged brothers in Sialkot last Sunday. But horrific as the incident may be, it did not come out of the blue.
Mob justice has been quite the norm, in Sindh, in Punjab and elsewhere in the country. The killings in Sialkot are a reminder that these murderers are getting more brutal, more dehumanised with each incident. The causes behind the madness that led to the lynching are still being probed. What is clear, however, is that the police were involved. Video footage of the incident shows policemen who seem to be part of the mob. The Supreme Court has taken notice of the double murder. The SHO ‘concerned’ has been arrested and a case registered against 14 people. The IG Punjab has suspended a few policemen in Sialkot and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also woken up to the situation. As he castigated the police the chief justice remarked: “What message have you given to the world about Pakistan?” One could say, with due respect to the judiciary, that the act would have been bad enough had it remained hidden from an international audience.
The agents who promote such despicable acts of violence must be identified. Those in the media must introspect and see how much they have contributed to the sense of desperation found among Pakistani citizens today, while the police must be taken to task along with rulers who encourage the law-enforcers and the general public to play judge and executioner. The very day newspapers reported the Sialkot double-murder, they also carried a news item about the awarding of the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz to the DIG Gujranwala, Zulfiqar Cheema, for “maintaining law and order”. The police officer, in whose jurisdiction Sialkot also falls, appears to do his job in a manner that is condemnable. There are serious allegations that under his watch people have been killed in encounters and their bodies paraded through the streets. When the state rewards such actions, it is actively creating conditions for incidents such as the one that took place in Sialkot. The state is no less guilty than the SHO who has been booked.