Mob frenzy is bereft of rationality, prudence and discretion. Once rabble-rousers take charge the sane voice is buried under the cacophony of mass fury. In civilized nations such instant justice served by the crowds is frowned upon and the perpetrators are meted out punishment within the legal ambit. Not so in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Islamic extremism has always been the cushion for Pakistani regime such that pandering to the extremists, nay glorifying the radical Islamists, has always been Islamabad’s state policy. Direct result is that mob lynching of the blasphemy ‘accused’ has been growing steadily across Pakistan.
A few days ago Mushtaq Ahmed, a mentally unstable man, who was ‘alleged/accused’ of disrespecting the Holy Quran was brutally murdered by an angry mob at Mian Channu tehsil in the Khanewal district of Punjab province in Pakistan. The key word here is ‘alleged/accused’, which effectively means someone might have just alleged that Mushtaq Ahmed had dishonoured the Holy Quran. It may or may not be true. Mushtaq’s blasphemy was never proven in the courts.
Pakistani journalist Fakhar Yousafzai while describing the lynching of Mushtaq Ahmed said that Pakistanis feel it’s their basic responsibility to kill someone brutally. “(It’s)…because we are fanatics and love extremism,” Yousafzai explained in his vlog (video blog).
Let me give an example of another mob frenzy from India, which is much talked about and placed as an example of rising intolerance against Muslims. On February 9, a young college student Muskan Khan drove her bike inside the college campus at Mandya, Karnataka. A hijab wearing Muskan was heckled by a group of saffron clad college students who were chanting Jai Shri Ram.
In the viral video it can be clearly seen that Muskan Khan came in with her hijab/niqab when her college had strictly prohibited wearing face covering hijab/ niqab/burqa. Yet Muskan Khan chose to provoke the college administration by putting on the hijab. As Muskan Khan parks her bike she is confronted and heckled by a large mob of Hindu men.
Now here’s lies the real story.
All saffron clad Hindu men who were heckling Muskan Khan with loud chants of Jai Shri Ram remained at safe distance of at least twenty-thirty feet and at no time did this saffron clad crowd try to come in physical proximity of Muskan in order to harm or attack her.
Even Muskan Khan was confident that not a single person in this saffron clad crowd would come near or harm her in any way, so much so that she could retort with Allah hu Akbar jibe.
Another dissimilarity is over the nature of provocation. Muskan Khan and her ilk are the provocateurs in India’s hijab controversy. Schools, colleges and educational institutions have always framed their own set of rules, which includes their dress code. Minority run schools can have their own dress code for students and this model has been running successfully over the last seven decades. The controversy over hijab was manufactured in order to create bad optics for India.
Compare Muskan Khan’s heckling with Pakistani TicToker Ayesha Akram who was molested in broad day light at Lahore on August 14, 2021. Ayesha Akram was making videos at Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore on that fateful day when hundreds of men molested her in broad day light. The hapless woman’s clothes were torn and she was tossed around like a trophy. It’s indeed a miracle that Ayesha Akram could survive that mass-molestation. And the reason for this mass-molestation was yet again some unfounded ‘allegations’.
In a yet another incident on December 4, 2021 a Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara was brutally beaten to death, his body doused with petrol and set on fire. Once again the mob frenzy acted on certain ‘accusations’ of blasphemy.
Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), a Pakistani think tank, in its latest report said that from 1947 till 2021 a total of 1415 blasphemy charges were labelled, of which 89 were killed. “Even after acquittal from blasphemy cases, the accused remain vulnerable to extrajudicial killing. On 4 July 2021, a policeman killed a man with a cleaver over blasphemy allegations years after the victim was acquitted of the charge by a court,” reveals the CRSS report.
The point being that mere accusation or a random allegation can trigger mob frenzy in Pakistan that leads to brutal lynching of the accused. In almost all cases of mob violence in Pakistan the victim was ‘accused’ and mob was the perpetrator of violence. In India, on the contrary, it was Muskan Khan and others of her ilk who had provoked an otherwise quaint college by disobeying college rules and creating the needless hijab controversy.
This is radical Islamists well planned stratagem of tweaking their gambit to play aggressor and victimhood as per the prevailing scenario. In India, Muslims are in a minority so their tactic is to first provoke the Hindu majority. Any step thereafter is branded as atrocities on Indian Muslims. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan where Muslims are in a majority all dissent and rational thought is killed in the name of nebulous blasphemy laws. Mere ‘allegation’ of blasphemy and mob gets a licence to slaughter the accused in Pakistan, here radical Islamists play as the aggressors.
Unfortunately a large section of mainstream (read lame-stream) media is still busy churning out stories about rising intolerance against Muslims in India. Brutalities, lynching and crowd violence during these mob frenzy is never talked about in op-ed columns nor are editorials written about rising intolerance across Pakistan under patronage of Pakistani regime. What a pity!
Even as the Muskan Khans will continue to misuse the freedom offered in India and play the Muslim victimhood card to make some quick buck, the Mushtaq Ahmeds in Pakistan will continue to be lynched in neighbouring Pakistan.
Fakhar Yousafzai rightly says: “Nobody is conspiring against Muslims. We are doing it ourselves.”