Why is this happening?

Posted on June 17, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Society
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Adil Najam

If you go to the website of The Daily Times for today (June 17, 2006) and look at the very first section–called Main News–you will see 5 top headlines of the day. When you look at the five stories together, they tell an even more sorry and depressing tale than each one does individually.

The very first story is about 40 stockbrokers at the Lahore Stock Exchange being served notices for short selling. This happens to be the least bad news for the day.

The next item is not just sad, but tragic. It is about the brutal murder of tribal journalist Hayatullah Khan, who went missing on December 5 last year while investigating the death of an Al Qaeda operative and was found dead in North Waziristan on Friday. The story quotes Mir Ali Assistant Political Agent Muhammad Fida Khan: “He was shot in the head from behind…. He was handcuffed and had a long beard, suggesting he spent a long time in captivity. He looked very weak.â€Â? (More details on this are available at WATANDOST: Inside News About Pakistan).

The third news item in the Main News section is simply titled “Man Stabbed to Death” but is clearly much more than that. This news is actually about the lethal stabbing of a man accused of blasphemy, and this right outside the Muzaffargah District Court.

“A police team was taking blasphemy accused Abdul Sattar Gopang to the sessions court for a hearing when it was attacked by two men, Muhammad Imran and Muhammad Iqbal,� Acting District Police Officer Muhammad Zubair Dreshak said. Police have arrested the assailants. Gopang, a toll tax contractor, had been accused of making “blasphemous remarks� against God and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The fourth story reports that the Bahawalpur police have registered a case against three men for the murder of the imam of a mosque accused of burning pages of the Holy Quran. Hafiz Qamar Javaid was attacked by a mob following rumours that he had burned pages of the Holy Quran. A schoolteacher also injured in the attack is in critical condition. The Hasilpur deputy superintendent of police is quoted: “Two cases have been registered. One against the alleged blasphemer and the other against the three attackers.”

The last Main News for the day from Peshawar about two female teachers and two children being gunned down in the Ghaljo area of Upper Orakzai Agency on Friday. The details are still hazy, but here is what the story tells us:

The gunmen fired through an open window into the residential quarters of Government Girls High School, Khwaga Cheri in a pre-dawn attack, killing teacher Salma, her 4-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, and Saeeda Jana, another schoolteacher. The two teachers were employees of the NWFP government’s Barani Area Development Programme (BADP) and taught stitching and embroidery to girls at the high school under the Barani Skills Training programme…. Sources told Daily Times the two teachers were Shias and their murder might have been sectarian. However, a Shia couple was living in the room next door and they were not harmed, the sources added. Another resident said that the people of the area saw the BADP as a non-government organisation that was funded by foreign donors and tribal people did not like women working for NGOs.

There are some who might suggest that the press should not be highlighting these stories because they sully the image of the country. They are wrong!

What sullies the image of the country is not the reporting of these stories but the fact that all these things happened in Pakistan this Friday. This is not to say that good things do not happen in Pakistan. They do; all the time. And we should, and do, celebrate them.

But when bad things happen, we have a duty to acknowledge that they happened, to say that they are bad, and to do something about them so that they do not happen again. When five things as bad as this happen together, we shoudl really think hard about why they are happening.

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