Khaled Ahmed


The Pakhtun culture of Pakistan lives under the concept of “tarboor”, the “cousin from the father’s side” who is supposed to kill you one day. What Pakistan and India are doing to their people, while also getting ready to hurt each other, is the disease Freud called “narcissism of the closely related”.


Pakistan is killing for blasphemy; India is killing for cow slaughter. Both are allowing people to do the killing. One is doing it under the law; the other, out of public outrage.The tarboors growl at each other even as they cleanse themselves of their internal infections.


The scholarly Indian can’t get himself heard if he says the people’s outrage the state allows is not based on historical facts. People like D.N. Jha are under attack for examining the myth of the sacred cow. A fatwa — imitating the Pakistani style of violence — of death was also passed on Jha by the extremists. The state is retreating: Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Rajasthan punish cow-slaughter with 10 years in prison, if the mobs don’t get you first. Meat-eating Muslims get thrashed, even if the meat is not beef.

In Pakistan, you can get killed for blaspheming or cursing the Holy Prophet. The angry cleric admits there is no punishment if you curse God. The victims usually turn out to be Christians, although we would have preferred Hindus — only there aren’t many around. But Muslims get stumped if they can’t find a suitable kafir and kill fellow Muslims instead. The law helps by not bothering about “intent”, the fundamental principle behind any conviction of crime. Pakistan’s blasphemy law will put any nation to shame, but the world of Islam has taken to strange ways and lacks shame, down to the once-sane Indonesia.


Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was killed and quartered on April 13, for being “liberal” and not attending Friday mosque sermons. There was shock at the way his body was desecrated, but the anger was soon waylaid by the urge to seek a “foreign” enemy. If India didn’t kill him in cahoots with America, we were left with a hefty load of guilt for legally inciting people to kill. Those who kill on behalf of the Islamic State and al Qaeda do it as Islamic “correction” and they have those who deputise for them, like the lawyers who drool over the hand of the blasphemy-killer as they bend to kiss it.


According to the counter-terrorism department of the Sindh police, profiles of 500 jailed militants indicate psychological problems among the 40 per cent from poor, lower middle-class backgrounds, motivated by a “hatred of the West and India”. Mashal Khan was innocently deifying a somewhat passé Che Guevara and thinking loudly of revolution.


But within a week, three burqa-clad sisters shot a man dead in Sialkot. Naureen, a medical student from Hyderabad in Sindh, was caught in Lahore before she could suicide-bomb a church on Easter. She thought she was working for Islam after taking training in Syria as a jihadi wife.


The man in Sialkot killed by the girls had been accused of blasphemy 13 years ago, before he understandably fled Pakistan. When he returned, it was not the police who got after him but three pious burqa-clad sisters who wanted paradise; this time, no one even condemned their act. They will probably be punished lightly. The state should stay clear of hanging them for murder because that will draw crowds on the streets of Sialkot, until a grand mausoleum is built for the sisters, commemorating their pious deed.


Sialkot is particularly vulnerable. In 2016, eight boys from there reached Syria as soldiers of the Islamic State, all from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa of the great warrior that takes on India in Kashmir. At the time, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said, “There must be less than 100, maybe 50, Pakistanis who have left for Syria.” Soon, the anti-terrorism department raided Sialkot and arrested Daesh-Islamabad leader, Amir Mansour, who recruited local youths for Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 per head to send to Syria “for training”.


In India, it would seem that it is convenient to kill Muslims because they are known to be non-vegetarian, but in Pakistan, it is easier to kill Christians, plus you get to squat on the property of the blasphemer. The tarboors need to kill each other. They can do it easily by nuking each other, but since that is not possible for a variety of reasons, including the world’s obsession with the conservation of nature, they can settle for killing Muslims in India and Christians in Pakistan.


I suggest “liberals” be added to the list as this renegade category is found in both the countries standing in the way of the fulfilments leaders like Gandhi and Jinnah had forgotten to promise.

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