Murder most foul


Disturbing news has come out of the tribal village of Manzkai in Balochistan where, it appears, medieval practices are in full swing. It is being reported that on the orders of a local cleric, a couple has been stoned to death for the ‘crime’ of adultery. Eyewitness accounts relate that after the stoning the man and woman were shot to make sure that there were no chances of survival. So far, eight people have been arrested in connection with this atrocious crime, including the cleric who issued the fatwa (religious edict) to have the couple killed via stoning. We in Pakistan are unfortunately used to hearing about this kind of monstrous behaviour emanating from the tribal areas and villages where verdicts passed by jirgas (tribal or village councils) are taken as law. These verdicts usually sentence women to all sorts of cruel treatment and honour killings of both women and the men they are accused of being associated with are common. However, we do not normally hear of fatwas leading to killings. Also, the gruesome punishment of stoning is also very rare. To stone a person to death requires a particularly cold-blooded and jaahil (barbaric) disposition and, unfortunately, there seem to be many takers for this in Pakistan. The cleric in this instance took the law into his own hands much like the members of jirgas will do to practice a particularly cruel and draconian interpretation of Islam. We have a system of law and, while achingly slow and creaky, the judicial system of the country in no way condones these practices. What has happened in Balochistan was illegal and nothing less than murder most foul. A man and a woman have been heinously murdered and all those who participated in this slaughter must be brought before the courts where exemplary punishments should be meted out. 
We do not live in the Dark Ages and we must do everything possible to establish this truth. The judiciary in Pakistan must get its act together and understand that it is because of our grindingly slow and inefficient legal system that traditional communities choose the alternative recourse for ‘justice’ through these jirgas and now, it seems, mullahs who will stop at nothing to impose their orthodoxy on us. It is imperative that a loud and clear message be sent out regarding this savage murder and how we will not tolerate the law being taken into anyone’s own hands.  *

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Aaj Kal