Sialkot Incident: Ramifications & Recommendations
Posted on December 9th, 2021

Brigadier (Retd) Atif Shafique Courtesy The Daily Times (Pakistan)

Much has been written, reported, said and talked about the horrendous incident in which a Sri Lankan national working in a factory in Sialkot was brutally killed and his body was burnt in the middle of Wazirabad road. Police arrested a number of accused offenders and authorities made solemn pledges to dispense justice. All said and done, people have serious doubts about any positive results and the furor will peter out with time as has happened in the past in many gruesome incidents. Only hollow statements, some rubble rousing rallies, perfunctory resolutions in the National and provincial assemblies, some more soft worded condemnations by religious scholars and routine babbling by inter-faith harmony committees, will stir a storm in the teacup and that is all. Then there would be a criminal silence till another such incident awakes us, though temporarily, from our deep slumber.

The incident needs deep soul-searching because the malady of radicalisation and extremism is deep-seated in society. This propensity has been pampered by influential quarters for the last many decades. Resultantly, the myopic mindset has become acceptable to a large segment of the public. Axiomatically, these monsters have grown bigger and bolder with each passing day. The example of the incident of 14th August at Minar-e-Pakistan and many more such acts on the night of 13th / 14th August are indicators of how low the morality of the society has gone down.

It is no rocket science to find out the root causes of this widespread frustration, intolerance and inhumane behaviour. One major factor which stands out is that the public is starved and deprived of all kinds of positive opportunities to vent out their energies nor there is any quality entertainment. In the late 70’s the increased role of religious pandits and then in the ’80s during Zia’s regime this present-day extremist, intolerant and fanatic religious cult was created and over time it kept growing and now it has almost become a Frankenstein monster. Lynching is nothing new in the name of religion in Pakistan, it is only that we have short-lived memories. Between 2012 to date over 10 to 12 different incidents of this brutal kind occurred and nothing happened to those involved after initial arrest etc. They were let off subsequently as the legal procedure allowed them an easy exit.

Lynching is nothing new in the name of religion in Pakistan. It is only that we have short-lived memories.

Follow up of the recent incident also shows a similar trend where the victim is considered to be a defaulter and the aggressors are being treated as heroes at the local level. The statements given by our various politico-religion leaders also indicate this same mindset.

The youth is rudderless and uncontrolled due to lack of opportunities, may it be vocational, entertainment, educational or cultural development. Our political, as well as religious leaders, is hell-bent to increase violence and agitation in the country to suit their goals and desires, At the same time, media houses have also joined this stream. The issue instead of being mellowed down is being highlighted to an extent where even if one wants to put off the anger and retaliation on hold is rather being incited by repeated discussions on various media modes. PEMRA is not taking notice of this toxic trend.

No religious leader or scholar has come upon air to talk about the need to be patient and tolerant the stance is quite perturbing. The reports of the accused being treated as heroes by the local community is also a point to ponder. The unsolved earlier cases of lynching may be the reason which encourages people to repeat such unethical acts.

The state in my opinion has failed to create the desired awareness amongst the masses. The so-called change in the name of the creation of Riasat-e-Madina appears to be no more than a slogan as no practical action/step can be seen on the ground. Even if there is no visible change on the political front due to the claimed negative role of the oppositions, where are the steps to create balance, tolerance, equality and provision of Justice??? Why do we only blame the previous governments? Three and half years or so have elapsed, why no step has been taken to improve upon the above-cited issues.

To blame only the government is also not correct, we all are included in this. It is very easy to sit down, criticize the system and point out the mistakes but in actual fact how many of us actually get out of our cosy homes and drawing rooms and initiate practical steps, may be only a few odd, but that doesn’t work. I feel that we all as individuals must seriously see and act in the fields where we can influence regardless of our political liking and disliking, we must try to bring awareness to people around us in our immediate circles. The need of the time to develop a sincere understanding / creating a sense of tolerance towards all and try to follow the law. Our educational institutions of all kinds must launch an immediate program to soften up the mindset of our future generation and clarify that to punish the criminal is the responsibility of the state. The punishing of the accused by public and mob is forbidden legally,m, socially religiously as well as ethically. We must not resort to taking the law in own hands (of course this has to be augmented by judicial reforms at the earliest). We must ensure that the religion is not made a tool to gain personal/collective/political aims. The true sprite of Islam must be highlighted.

The need of the hour is to launch a massive drive at public level to create awareness, opportunities, and provide options for all the public to get out of the tense environment and get busy in healthy and constructive activities or else we will continue to see the incidents where in matter of minutes already socially, culturally and economically deprived masses turn into a mob on just one slogan and within minutes the situation gets out of control, where anything can happen. We all must act now if we want to see change or else incidents like Minar-e-Pakistan and Sialkot will keep happening in days to come unfortunately.

The writer is a freelance columnist

One Response to “Sialkot Incident: Ramifications & Recommendations”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Bogus Human Rights!

    If at all it is only a few so called Human Rights organisations who have come to report and comment on the incident. So far no comments from Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch. They will only appear when the accused are sentenced to talk about their human rights.

    Over the years, Human Rights, Democracy and Reconciliation have become tools at the hands of the powerful to castigate the poorer countries into submission. Saudi Arabia sitting in the Human Rights Council says it all!

    I agree with the writer, all this steam about brutal killing of Priyantha Kumara will get diluted to Sialkot Incident, then another and then into forgetfullness – both from Pakistan and Sri Lanka ends.

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