Love is a Painful Thing: Bol, kay labb azad haiN tairay

Posted on January 3, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Society
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Adil Najam

If this was not so horrific and heart wrenching as it is, one could go on and on about the pangs of love and all the poetry about how lovers have to be ready to bear the pain that society would inflict upon them. But because this is as sad a story as it is, all I can think of is “cheeti doRReiN way tabeeba…” (come fast, my doctor).

This is a painful story. So, if you are weak of stomach, stop reading. This is not a story about religion or about custom or about culture. It is a story about jahaalat… nirri jahalat. The roots of this are exactly the same as the roots of our earlier post about how Shagufta got killed.

According to the Daily Times (4 January, 2006):

Armed men cut off the ears and nose of a man who married a woman from their tribe against their will, after he and his family refused to hand her over, police said on Wednesday. The attackers also chopped off the ears of the man’s brother, while severing his mother’s hand in the latest reported “honour⠢‚¬Â? crime in the country’s conservative rural areas.

Mohammad Iqbal’s wife, Shehnaz, was not at home when about 15-armed members of her clan carried out the attack in Multan on Tuesday, demanding that she be returned to them. “The assailants, who were armed with small arms, daggers and axes, tortured Iqbal and cut off his ears and nose when he refused to produce Shenhaz,� Naeem-ul-Hassan, a deputy superintendent of police, told Reuters, adding that five suspects had so far been arrested. “They dragged us on the floor and thrashed us before cutting our limbs,� Mohammad Yasin, Iqbal’s brother, told Reuters from Nishtar hospital, where he was being treated along with his brother and mother. Shehnaz married Iqbal out of choice last year and the couple left Multan along with Iqbal’s family apparently for fear of reprisals from Shehnaz’s relatives. The family returned to Multan recently to celebrate Eidul Azha.

This is not something that happens every day. But it is something that happens far more often than it should. It is a story that needs to be told and needs to be condemned. The untold part of this story is that all too often we just keep quiet about such stories. We tell ourselves: “well its just an aberration; this is not the norm,” or that “such things happen everywhere, its not just us,” or “if we repeat this story to others it will give all of us a bad name and our ‘enemies’ will make it look as if all of us are like this,” and, ultimately, the hope is that “if we just keep quiet, the story will just go away.”

Well, I have news for you. It does NOT go away. It keeps on happening. Our silence only fuels it, because the criminals confuse the silence for consent.

It is not without reason that Faiz Sahib said:

Bol, keh labb aazad haiN tairay
Bol, zabaan abb tak tairi hai

21 responses to “Love is a Painful Thing: Bol, kay labb azad haiN tairay

  1. Ragheb Alama says:


    Interesting post. I came across this blog by accident, but it was a good accident. I have now bookmarked your blog for future use. Best wishes. Ragheb Alama Website Team….

  2. B.I. says:

    I agree, instead of waiting for the West to make a noise and then feeling hurt about it, we should speak up against injustice against Pakistanis before any one else does.

  3. Ghlaib says:

    its tragic!!!simply outrageous!
    but the real concern is do we give our sisters the right to marry by their will??coz we can talk on the story fer all day long but i guess we are at fault at our own end first!coz we promote by stoppin these kinda marriages at home or look down upon a woman who has married in courts!we at micro level shud see coz these micro things have gotten a macro impact in the society!islam rightly sai by the victim allows marriage by choice! we shud first see wat are we following and doing as its easy to condemn these kinda things as they happen everyday every second the difference is that some surface to the media aand many dun!many get killed!remmeber the siama case?
    one more thing wats outrageous and saddening is that we associate the stories with female names like mukhtaran mai case or dr shazia case or siama case and not under offenders name!coz here as well politics is involved juss to sell the story!i can just feel sorry fer the poor guy as nuffin wud happen!
    i wish him speedy recovery and steadfastness on his decision an i bow to the strongwilled couple!
    the last May Allah give em strenght to bear the hipocritic society that we live in!including myself too!

  4. omar r. quraishi says:

    See the editorial we carried on this in The News today (Jan 5)

    The brutal price of love

    The gruesome way in which the ears and nose of a man in Multan were cut off by armed men for marrying a woman of their tribe is a barbaric reminder of just how obdurate certain segments of Pakistani society are in denying adults the right to marry whoever they want. The grotesque incident also shows that while a country like Pakistan may have good laws on its statute books — the recently passed Women’s Protection Bill being a case in point — there is a lot more to be done in terms of changing social attitudes towards women. This is particularly true for the rural areas though it is by no means restricted to them for the simple reason that patriarchy and misogyny are states of mind and can be found in the most unlikely of places and in the most unexpected of people.

    The action by the police in harassing the victim and his family and of a local union council nazim who allegedly patronised the attackers is also disappointing but typical. According to the victim’s family, the police refused to register a case after the woman’s relatives had shown up earlier and severely beaten up one of his brothers. Iqbal — the man whose ears and nose were cut off — is a cobbler and that also probably is another indicator which explains why he had to undergo such a harrowing ordeal. Whether one likes it or not, the truth is that large swathes of Pakistani society are class-ridden and stratified. People who happen to be at the so-called lower rungs of society, such as labourers, drivers, waiters or cobblers cannot even dream of marrying girls who come from families deemed to have a higher social standing. It is obvious that Iqbal made this terrible mistake and he and his family has had to pay for it dearly.

    One now waits to see what kind of justice he and his family and his wife receive from the federal and provincial governments. Those police officials who have harassed his family members and abetted the terrible crime need to be sacked and tried in a court of law. Of course, it goes without saying that the men who cut his ears and nose off should be immediately arrested and given exemplary punishment as well because that is the only way to send a strong message to others who may have the same barbaric and medieval thinking. One would also strongly advise a federal minister from the area, who visited the victim in hospital and then proceeded to absolve the police of any wrongdoing, not to interfere with the legal process. The minister is also reported to have explained the incident away by saying that the victim’s family and his wife’s clan had an old enmity — surely, minister, that doesn’t justify what happened to Iqbal? Other than the perpetrators of this brutal act, and the police officials who harassed Iqbal’s family, the investigation also needs to account for the conduct of the local union council nazim who, according to Iqbal, acted to protect his attackers. Since the police itself is party to the crime, or at least involved in it according to the victim’s account and because it often tends to get away scot-free in such cases, it would be best for the government to investigate the incident through a judge of the superior courts. 9

  5. Samdani says:

    Love the idea of a ‘Lovers Protection Bill’.

    The MMA thought that the Womens Protection Bill would turn the country into a ‘free sex zone’ but maybe we should realy try to make teh country ‘safe for lovers’. Mohabbat, after all, ibaadat hai!

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