Dear Pakistan: Here is what is wrong with you

In an utterly hideous incident, Pakistan’s Rangers killed a teenage boy at point blank range in Karachi. The video was broadcast on your National channels. I don’t want to describe it because I vomited when I saw it and I want to complete this post.

No one helped the boy and he died on camera. I have tears in my eyes as I write this right now. His family will probably cry for years.

The problem is not just the Army, but your automatic mentality to make excuses for them. The real reason for the post is not this butchery, which should have been shocking, but is sadly routine news from your country. The reason is that even a newspaper like Dawn has a problem staying on topic when it comes to blaming the Army.

Annie Rizvi has written an article about the incident called Killing them Brutally. This article made me want to vomit again.

It begins beautifully, with the incident described, and concerns raised for the Army.

From there, it goes on a world tour. Some quotes:

But more importantly: What is wrong with us? Why does death and murder fascinate us so? And why are our inhumane instincts taking over our compassion and humanity? This murder is not the first nor will it be the last. The Kharotabad incident is still fresh in our minds, where a group of people, including two women, were gunned down by security personnel for no apparent threat. Such incidents should sound alarm bells for experts who are responsible for the psychological evaluation of our security personnel.

Wonderful opening to the raising of the big question. And then it goes downhill.

It is common knowledge that a trained soldier will not unleash a splay of bullets on an unarmed person who poses no threat; these men are trained not only to control their emotions but also their fire. Trained to follow orders, they are well aware that one wrong move will land them into severe trouble, especially in situations like the ones mentioned above. They are aware that they will not only be held accountable for their actions but severely punished which could include termination. Keeping this in mind, the actions of the men involved in these two episodes need to be closely investigated and their mental state evaluated, so that such incidents don’t recur.

Seriously? I mean, I’m not Pakistani, but from all accounts, it is routine for your trained soldiers to unleash bullets on unarmed people who pose no threats. One recent incident has been quoted by you in the paragraph directly above.

What awareness of one wrong move and accountability are you talking about? Many wrong moves. Who exactly got punished?

Men involved need to be investigated and mental state evaluated? No punishment? I thought you said they fear severe punishment in exactly previous sentence? You aren’t even suggesting that? What next? Paid holiday for de-stressing?

Without justifying this murder in Karachi, it has been noted that people working in such high risk jobs like the armed forces in combat seemed to be suffering from extreme stress, which in most cases is not identified timely and results in such sad incidents.

I don’t know if you have seen the video and inherited its nightmares like I did, but the Rangers did not look stressed at all. They were working as a team with none of them having a problem with proceedings. Nor did even one of them come to so much as hold the dying boy’s hand, forget assist. Looks like this extreme stress affected everyone equally. I think your entire Army should be given a paid holiday. Please pay your taxes on time.

Soldiers experiencing overwhelming combat situations may sometimes give vent to their frustration and stress by ‘taking out’ their own colleagues. There have been gruesome incidents in many countries in India and USA, where soldiers have been known to turn their fire on their own colleagues due to extreme stress that has remained undetected.

Now we don’t even bother to talk about the Army (one paragraph transition) India and US do it too, not just your soldiers. Its a normal thing, ok? You aren’t specially bad or anything. In fact, let me tell you what Indian and US soldiers do…

According to news reports, in 2009 a soldier of the Assam Rifles elite paramilitary force shot dead six soldiers in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur after an argument. The report further stated that the accused had been suffering from stress which was caused because members of the security forces are denied long leaves during severe counter-insurgency operations. Similarly, in 2010 US army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist at Fort Hood, Texas USA killed 11 soldiers and wounded 31 one more before he was wounded by a SWAT team.

See! Evil US and Indians do this too. You aren’t worse than them! Rangers were doing something all soldiers do. If you’ve got a son, please send him walking by the barracks this afternoon, thank you.

Unfortunately for Pakistan, such incidents of venting ones stress by murder are not only restricted to the security personnel. There have been reported cases of similar incidents where unarmed common people have been involved. In such cases, the number of people involved in these murders has been quite large, which could indicate the state of mind that the majority of Pakistanis are in.

There have been incidents in cities like Karachi and Lahore where unarmed common people have used their bare hands to inflict the worst kind of death on alleged ‘robbers’ by torturing and at times burning them to death. Serving ‘brutal quick justice’ seems to satiate some bloody instinct of the torturers.

And don’t think soldiers are the only evil. People kill with bare hands. Imagine. At least soldiers are supposed to kill…. send your second sons by the barracks late night.

And who can forget the Sialkot torture and murder incident where a mob lynched two young brothers alleging that they were robbers. These men were tortured to death in front of a whole village, including police personnel but no one came to their rescue despite their pleas. The crowd watched in awed silence as these ‘robbers’ were subjected to the worst kind of slow torture possible. The cold hearted murderers didn’t stop at torturing and killing their ‘prey’ and getting over it, but they seemed to enjoy the prolonged torture these men were being put through, which is evident by the torturers using various torture methods on these men. Even pleas to end their torture by killing them quickly didn’t seem to make any difference on the murderous mob.

Mob violence exists. Its real bad. Seriously. Better the soldiers killed him. Imagine if a mob had caught hold of him?

It seems that in countries like Pakistan, signs of frustration, stress and other psychological issues are not taken into consideration. Traditionally we seem to accept violence, even cold blooded murder at times as is seen in the most common one of karo kari, and allow it to prevail in society under some guise or the other. We allow our children to be brutal and severe with pets and regale tales of the times our kids have mistreated or killed chicks, thrown stones or tied roped around cats, dogs and other helpless animals without remorse.

It is part of tradition. Not something you expect soldiers to resist. This is how they are.

And finally:

It is time for us to look inside ourselves and work on ‘civilising’ ourselves. We must give life, human or animal, importance and value it. We must not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by our murderous instincts snuffing out more lives.

So now, because the Army killed a boy, the civilians should introspect about the evil in them. Makes sense. The Army is busy, and someone ought to do it.

I suggest a nice meditation retreat cum health spa for the whole country. Think and contemplate and look deep inside yourselves in order to know that killing people is a bad idea. Of course, no one is expected to know this without the spa, our instincts are just too much.

And of course, while you are busy introspecting and meditating, etc. The soldiers can get back to “work”. After all, you haven’t so much as suggested that they be detained, let alone punished or out of jobs.

WTF? I mean, seriously, what the fuck? If you can’t stay on track beyond the first paragraph, how do you expect people to not shift into this kind of mental excusing?

It could even have made sense if it were about brutal killings in Pakistan, which is a concern, if it weren’t for the vacation trip to India and US and the utter absense of popular methods of killings like drive by shootings, bombs, beheadings, etc.

Your Army is a massive killing machine. If you want to have at least a prayer of asking accountability from them and not suffering from ADD before you get an answer, you need to seriously learn to stay on topic and resist these garbage excuses. There is no excuse for killing an unarmed civilian, particularly one not even remotely threatening, and in fact one begging for life. There is no excuse for denying first aid to a wounded person. You don’t need contemplations and meditations to know that. Nor do you need psychological evaluations.

This article really has me worried as to what the future holds for our region. Learn to think straight. Then actions will fall into place.


Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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