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The Wrong Picture: I Will Not Contaminate My Grief With Their Vengeance

Posted on July 3, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Photo of the Day, Society
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Adil Najam

There is something terribly wrong with this picture.

The picture was taken at a protest against the the brutal murder of innocents at Data Darbar in Lahore yesterday. These are protesters at a rally brandishing supposedly ‘toy’ guns to express their anger at the killings and calling for revenge – I say ‘supposedly’ because news reports suggest that actual firing was done by masked gunmen.

What is wrong with this picture is exactly what is wrong not just in Pakistan, but especially in Pakistan: What is wrong with this picture is a validation of violence as a solution.

According to The Express Tribune those present advocated violent revenge, brandished weapons, and instigated sectarian hatred. Here are the details:

Addressing a charged protest demonstration outside the Data Darbar on Friday, with over 3,000 emotional participants, the leaders of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) openly advocated violent revenge. Several SIC members vowed to ‘seek revenge’ for ‘the attack on Sunni honour’ and urged violence against those responsible. Instigating the cheering and vulnerable mass of participants, Allama Abdul Tawab Siddiqi questioned, “Are you a devotee of the saint in name only or do you want to seek revenge and prove your allegiance?” Tempers and emotions ran high as the protestors raised their hands in unison, heeding the call and promising to prove their loyalty. Allama Siddiqi then administered them a collective oath. A masked gunman fired a round from the midst of the crowd to mark the end of Allama Siddiqi’s speech and as a symbolic gesture of the crowd’s respect and agreement. … Despite the public declarations and incitement, the protest was not interrupted and the police superintendant present at the scene made no move to arrest any of the leaders or the participants or to stop them.

I had never heard of SIC before. I do not know who SIC speaks for; but is certainly does not speak for this particular Sunni.

I too have been grieved, and pained, and outraged by the brutality of the murders at Data Durbar, just as I had been at the murders of Ahmadi worshipers a month ago, just as I had been at the murders of Christians last August, just as I have been at murders of all Pakistanis anywhere. But I refuse to contaminate my grief with vengeance. I want justice, not revenge.

I will not stoop to the same tactics and similar rhetoric that has brought upon me the grief that I mourn at Data Sahib, at Garhi Shahu, at Gojra. Those in this picture may claim that they share the depths of my grief, my angst, my pain; but I refuse to share the vitriolic of their proclamations, the display of ammunition (real or fake), the calls for violence, the notes of hatred.

I refuse to do so because it is exactly that same vitriolic that has brought us to the sorry point that we have reached. I refuse to do so because this validation of violent vengeance dishonors the blood of those who have been martyred, it discredits the grief of those who have lost their beloved, and it auguments the arguments of those who have do the killing.

I, for one, refuse to be part of any of the above.

30 Comments on “The Wrong Picture: I Will Not Contaminate My Grief With Their Vengeance”

  1. Humaira says:
    July 3rd, 2010 2:19 am

    Well said, Dr. Najam. Very well said.

  2. Haroon says:
    July 3rd, 2010 2:36 am

    You are right. Why do we think that the answer to every problem is more violence.

    Also, I think these people are just political point scorers.

  3. Musalman says:
    July 3rd, 2010 2:38 am

    Dear Adil, you remain a voice of humanity and sanity, in this desert of the inhumane and insane.
    Thank you for this excellent post.

  4. Saad says:
    July 3rd, 2010 3:39 am

    it was a tragedy!

  5. Anwar says:
    July 3rd, 2010 6:36 am

    When means of violence exceed means of law and justice, this is what results..

  6. Sober Man says:
    July 3rd, 2010 7:36 am

    HOOR CHOOOOPOOO.
    When we public will stand up against guns and these mullas .
    Every body know about there directors and producers .
    Lets stop them now
    other wise they will destroy us like they did in Afghanistan .
    its our war our people ,our kids,our women ,our men are on the target .
    MOVE NOW FIRE IS GETTING CLOSE DAY BY DAY.

  7. Aziz says:
    July 3rd, 2010 8:45 am

    If this is the level we think at, what is the difference between Talibans and us? This kind of act would have been looked upon with great honor in the 7th or 8th century but for God’s sake, we are in the 21st century now. Sadly, some Muslims are still living in the 7th century and until they “grow-up” and realize that this world is to be shared by everybody, no one will live peacefully.

  8. Gardezi says:
    July 3rd, 2010 9:00 am

    The real enemies of Pakistan are the people who support the Taliban and make excuses for them. They are the ones who support these murders without even knowing it

  9. Mohammed Wasim says:
    July 3rd, 2010 9:05 am

    Sad how we so easily go behind anyone advocating violence as a solution. That is exactly what made the Taliban murderers powerful.

  10. Allama says:
    July 3rd, 2010 10:40 am

    Time to take down centers of terror in Akora Khatak and Panj Pir.

  11. Abida says:
    July 3rd, 2010 10:46 am

    This “mar jain gay, maar dain gay” attitude to everything, specially religion is what is killing us all. Literally. At the end of the day these guys wanting to kill in the name of their faith are no different from other murderers wanting to kill in the name of their faith.

    SAD

  12. sidhas says:
    July 3rd, 2010 11:07 am

    Violence in any shape or form should condemned.

    I been thinking about it for past two days and the only way out is to make sure State authorities can protect lives of citizens without any discrimination.

    The State should be neutral and State should have monopoly over means of violence.

    Aik niyaam mein do talwaar nahi rah sakti.

    Pakistani State must step up to the plate and we should make sure we support and remain steadfast. May allah grant us victory over evil ( ameen ).

  13. Cathy says:
    July 3rd, 2010 5:55 pm

    Dear Adil Najam. You are a good human being and reading your views gives me strength and gives me hope that despite all the dark news, goodness will prevail at the end. Thank you for your courage and your honesty and your ability to say what so many of us also feel.

  14. An Ahmadi Muslim says:
    July 3rd, 2010 10:20 pm

    Thank you for becoming the voice of sanity!

  15. faraz says:
    July 4th, 2010 2:13 am

    Well if state is not taking any action then people will take arms and will go against these terrorist and their supporters.

  16. July 4th, 2010 5:43 am

    @Adil,
    I know that there is really something wrong with this picture, but there is also something wrong with your article. And that something is the same thing which is wrong with all the so-called “media-men” like yourselves in Pakistan. Publicizing the violent expression of a crowd in order to condemn it is in no way less condemnable then the actual act.
    Compare your article with the piece on BBC urdu today
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2010/07/100703_data_serene.shtml
    Remember media is a two-edged sword that cut both ways and you are using it to cut from the wrong side.

  17. Wasif Hussain says:
    July 4th, 2010 2:51 pm

    Another courageous post. I salute you for speaking up against all secular violence.

    But I also worry for your safety. You are making some very powerful enemies by speaking up against these people and the Taliban and ithers who preach intolerance. I am afraid that their methods are different from your focus on discussion and reason. I fear they will send their goons for you one way or other. These people play dirty. Pls take of yourself, Sir.

  18. Fawad says:
    July 4th, 2010 6:32 pm

    Adil, I am in complete agreement with the anti-violence sentiments of your piece. However, there is a far more complicated political story playing out in the background that your piece does not seem to recognize. Perhaps people are not as aware of it as even the Pakistani media completely avoids this topic for fear of encouraging sectarian divisions.

    The Sunni Ittehad Council, Sunni Tehreek, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) and several other Barelvi Muslim organizations have been becoming more overtly aggressive and uniting against violent terrorist attacks of the TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Ghazi Force, Jamat-ul-Dawa etc. even against mosques, dargahs and sufi shrines that are the power base of Barelvi sunnis (likely the majority in Pakistan). The Barelvi groups now see the Deobandi / Wahabi / Salafi / Takfiri beliefs and ideology as a direct threat to them as they too are being increasingly considered “apostates” by the takfiris in addition to the Shias and Ahmadis. The Wahabi aligned religio-political forces such as Jamaat-e-Islami, JUI and even elements of PMLN are now experiencing blowback from these Barelvi groups who in the absence of state protection are now ready to fight against their sectarian enemies. In your accompanying photograph, those are Barelvi guns you see being brandished after the attack on Data Darbar.

    In Pakistan the state has completely lost its power to protect innocent people and enforce the writ of law. In the midst of a failing state, different militias are taking over as they see their lives being threatened by non-state actors who consider them kafirs and expendable in the global jihadist march toward the caliphate. If this problem of rampant violence is not tackled with urgency and competence by the government, what we may be witnessing is a march toward civil war.

    But how can the problem even be tackled when most Pakistanis refuse to face the facts of the country’s march toward extremism and pin the blame of society’s crumbling on America, India and/or Israel. A society divided against itself, which cannot even admit what truly ails it cannot hope to fight the extremism in its midst. Even today the most common cliche after any terrorist attack in Pakistan is that the attackers cannot be Muslim when the killers themselves (when captured) are constantly telling us that they believe they are the only true Muslims.

  19. July 4th, 2010 7:19 pm

    Some comments from the ATP Facebook page:

    - “o bhai jo kuch ho chuka hai, ab yehi nobat aye gi”
    - “There s nothing wrong with the pic, this is anger to show the helplessness of people, when u feel nobody s here to take u out of this situation,instead ur rulers r just issuing statements and a few lakh rupees to compensate the lose of lives. When helplessness touches this limit then comes the show of anger,violence.”
    - “gen zia has created an islamic tiger on whom all pakistanis have to ride. this is what happens when somebody tries to get off”
    - “The people who posted above saying.. this would happen ..are indirectly justifying these things. These things are extremely dangerous for Pakistan if you didnt know.”
    - “this god damn religious monkey is no different than taliban, encouraging the same violence as they are perpetrating. why is he carrying an armed guard who is firing amidst protests, may all these god damn opportunists go to hell !!!”
    - “All religious parties have ties with the terrorists and when terrorists strike these Bigot Maulvis come out protesting.Why should we trust these assholes who use the terror tactics to negotiate lucrative deals with the government.One example is Maulana Fazal-Ur-Rehman of JUI. He was a big patron of Terrorists in Dera Ismaeel Khan and after getting permits he sided with the government. I must say for every terror attack we should kill one Politico-Maulvi and get rid of the menace once and for all..”
    - “Do you all think that we are in need of a Kamal Ataturk…..”

  20. Humaira says:
    July 4th, 2010 7:53 pm

    Excellent post. This whole sectarian focus really scares me even more that want we have. If we keep drawing these lines along sects then we will only get deeper and deeper into this mess. Yes, I am also fed up with these killing but I distrust anyone who calls for this violence. Have we learnt nothing? They will turn into the monsters of tomorrow.

  21. S.A. Naqvi says:
    July 4th, 2010 8:03 pm

    @Fawad.
    What you say may be true, but that makes this more disturbing.
    This game of ‘good sects and bad sects’ is very dangerous. Vigilantism is bad and sectarian vigilanteism is even worse. Raising voice against those who commit murder is a good thing, but inciting people to violence and lawlessness is an invitation to a sectarian civil war. I see this is my own friends too, once people get excited about the ‘danger’ to their own sect and create demons of everyone else being their enemy, it only leads to more violence and then only the most violent take control. We have seen this happen too many times already, and cannot afford to make things even worse.

    These people need to be caught and punished.

  22. Ehtisham says:
    July 4th, 2010 8:24 pm

    Good comment by Fawad.

    Shows why it is so necessary for govt and military to establish writ of law and catch some of these immediately. Without that only more thugs will come up.

  23. Zaheer says:
    July 4th, 2010 10:54 pm

    This is disturbing, or another disturbing news. This is what happens when government cannot do its job. People take things into their own hands.

  24. Saeed says:
    July 4th, 2010 11:09 pm

    I think it is good other religious groups are challenging the Taliban. It should be encouraged.

  25. banjara286 says:
    July 5th, 2010 1:20 am

    @saeed,
    what should be encourage d is that the state discharge its duty to enforce the law and provide security. unless u think that civil war is the proper answer for the extremists.

  26. Saba says:
    July 5th, 2010 1:20 am

    I completely agree with you Adil. This is no way to show your pain; by replicating the violent behavior of the suicide bombers.

  27. ATHEIST says:
    July 5th, 2010 2:49 am

    hi Adil with all due respect i will dissagree with you, i think it is time to pick up the gun and start a fight against terrorists, well we all know who the terrorists are and where they come from, who sypmatsize them, who shelter them and finance them. government of pakistan has been failed to protect people of pakistan and pakistan army is in incest relationship with the masters of the taliban, WE ALL KNOW WHO THE TERRORISTS ARE….. common it is time to wake up and start doing something rather then sit and get killed by these terrorists… by not doing anything we are more coward than these terrorists……

  28. July 5th, 2010 6:35 am

    @ ATHEIST
    What do you mean…
    do Terrorism to stop terrorism……
    US and Israel have also same Philosophy
    More Terrorism in the response of terrorism…

    @ ATHEIST
    This is the duty of authority not civilians to fight against terrorist, If you permit SIC then you have to permit as well

    We should equally protest all Exta judicial and Extra law activities, Terrorist are still unknown but the anger people are known….

  29. fatima.ahtesham says:
    July 5th, 2010 7:43 am

    I agree with the title

  30. Qazi Fareed says:
    July 6th, 2010 10:39 am

    Very good piece and strongly stated. Thank you for speaking out on something that no one wants to speak out on. This tendency to find violent solutions for everything is what got us here. This attitude that we will use wrong means because we have right ends only creates new monsters. We seem to have learnt nothing from history.

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