Pakistan: A land with feudals, a nation without Shahzeb

Published: January 1, 2013

I, like everyone else in that rally, know that some things lost cannot return. Shahzeb’s life is one of them. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Suddenly, out of the blue, one incident can jolt a group of people into corrective action. It breaks through their familiarity. It shatters apathy.

Simultaneously, several strong-willed, capable individuals are united in the knowledge that their own heart might intercept the next bullet that escapes a wayward weapon, unless they act this instant.

Shahzeb Khan, January 31, 1992 – December 25, 2012, was shot the night of his sister’s valima because of a tiff with members of a feudal family.

His murder was similar to millions of others in Pakistan.

The reasons for these tragedies are strikingly similar too; in the vacuum of law and order, some among us claim the right to kill others simply because they can. Even sadder is that we fail to refute this claim by our silence, our loss for words, and our lack of action.

Where similarities end and change begins is the attitude Shahzeb’s family has adopted towards their loss. A few hours after his murder, a Facebook page and Twitter hash tag were in place to raise awareness and support. Within two days, plans for a peaceful protest across Karachi and Lahore were hatched.

Less than a week after the tragedy, hundreds of people, most of them strangers to Shahzeb’s family, have marched alongside them to demand an end to disregard for life. They clutched banners and chanted for peace and justice. They lit candle flames and carried determination in their expressions and their hearts.

They were not afraid of speaking to the press, articulating their belief that the society they inhabit is not doing a good enough job of protecting their right to live. They were organised and purposeful. They sheltered women, holding hands on the fringes to keep the small community together and protected. They spoke in one voice, remembered a life lost, stopped in one place to reiterate that this pain is echoed through millions of families suffering today.

These people did not look helpless.

They did not sound weak.

They were passionate and disciplined, and they had a cause — the perfect ingredients in a recipe for change. The rallies were a miniature version of the larger community all of the protesters need Pakistan to be; a safe place where no feud and no feudal can murder.

Exactly a week later, over 50,000 people have condoled with Shahzeb’s family through social media. Political leaders have reached out to the grieving.

I am a perfect stranger to this boy, yet I write for him with tears in my eyes, because he could have been my friend, or my brother, or me.

I, like everyone else in that rally, know that some things lost cannot return. Shahzeb’s life is one of them. I also know that some things lost will not return unless we fight for them tooth and nail. Justice and peace are good examples.

There are so many fears that hold us back every day when our hearts and souls push us to do something about the ugliness in our surroundings.

There are questions. There is doubt.

What can I possibly do about something so magnanimous?

How can I alone fix anything?

When will this ever end?

Will we ever feel safe again?

How much more suffering?

And then one young brave girl, one handsome, treasured boy takes a bullet for us to understand that we are not alone.

We do not have to fix this by ourselves. There are more of us, more inquisitive, injured, anxious people who imagine change but do not move to implement it for fear of failure.

Yes it is difficult, perhaps unfathomable, to know how improvement will come. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will a peaceful Karachi – or a safer Pakistan. It will take time. It will take courage. It will take a common vision. It will also take people who still believe in the possibility of peace.

Surely, our opinions of our own selves aren’t so low that we feel we do not deserve a better life than this? Can we not start small today?

It could be refusal to litter a public street with our trash. It could be a decision to volunteer for a local NGO. It could be walking in a rally to protest against murder.

It could be use of social media, the ultimate asset, to garner support for a cause. It could be an idea we inspire, a group we found, an example we prove that sets the stage for progress.

If we decide not to wait for another life to be lost, it could be today that marks a new beginning.

This could be the instant when one innocent victim convinces us to act.

It could be Malala. It could be Shahzeb.

areeba.kamal

Areeba Kamal

An alumna and former employee of Nixor College. She is currently studying International Relations and Computer Science at Mount Holyoke, USA. She tweets @KamalAreeba twitter.com/KamalAreeba

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Op

    Spot on..i too find extremely painful when our innocent people being killed in such manner.. but there is hope one day
    Khuda kare ke mere ek bhi humwatan ke liye,
    Hayat jurm na ho zindagi wabaal na hoRecommend

  • Hira

    Very well written. Although the idea of eradicating Pakistan completely of feudalism is a farfetched one, limiting the powers of these landlords and their progeny seems like a good place to start. While the government raids Lyari every other day, no one realizes the number of weapons hidden in these houses, those very weapons, that are responsible for taking an innocent’s life.

    We are humans too, we deserve security too, then why are those with monetary and political access the only ones provided with proper security in this country?Recommend

  • Sidra Siddiqui

    It’s time the feudals realised that they can’t use Karachi as a hunting ground,where they can come in,commit any crime and then escape easily into the safety of interior Sindh where no one can arrest them.For how long must normal civilians pay the price for the egos of arrogant,powermad feudals who treat everyone like their haaris.We are not slaves,not your serfs,please keep your feudal mentality in interior Sindh.Recommend

  • ahsan

    Excellent piece. We should keep on raising our voice against the unjust. Recommend

  • Abdul basit

    They killed Shahzeb because they knew they could kill him and get away with it.They knew no one in Pakistan could touch them because of their rich and powerful family backgrounds.They killed because they knew there would be no jail time for them.They killed shahzeb and then fled to their hometowns where the entire society is at their mercy,where the police,the local media,everyone bows down before the feudal lords.
    It’s the innocent people of Karachi who have to pay the price for the whims of the feudals of Sindh.Recommend

  • http://www.roonjha.com Qaisar Roonjha

    As I just have heard that CJP has take Sou Moto Action about it, I am very much proud to say that this time I have seen very positive approach by Youngsters specially for raising their voice via Social media, and I have seen trending #JusticeforShazaib Khan initial days and latter #Justice4Shazaib khan latter was trending on top its because people have raise voice for justice despite of difference of parties and ethnicity but they become one voice for justice and having a peaceful protests at Karachi give me hope that we are on way of a better tomorrow. thanks to all those who supported in this cause this not just for Shahzaib Khan but for every humanity,

    Regards.Recommend

  • Adnan

    The children of the rich and the famous can get away with anything including murder as this case has shown.If your father has factories,tv channels,agricultural lands in the village,you can get away even with murder.
    Kill & then run away to the security of your village.Recommend

  • Murtaza

    Yet another loss of life in Pakistan. As a British born raised and resident of Pakistani heritage I read these stories and it breaks my heart. The pakistani elite and the establishment is the most corrupt and they are now building further legacies through their children.
    Look at Benazirs/zardari they are completely disconnected from the Pakistani nation, look at the Sharif clan they are worse.
    We as pakistani need to start a much larger movement to turn the balance of power in favor of the masses from the few. The 1% of the anti-Pakistan lead the 99% of e population.
    We are all guilty of letting this one percent commit the crimes against us. Let us change the situation with our feet at the polling stations.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You are so right and the anguish you show is so real.
    When Benazir Bhutto, Salman Taseer, Mr. Bhatti were shot the government did nothing except play politics. Can one expect action from this shameless lot ??
    Today there is a news item that the CJ has taken suo motu notice of the incident. To me this is futile, unless he says the killers have to caught and punished in 10 days and that will not happen and like all else ‘ this to shall pass ‘. Recommend

  • Hassaan

    Scintillating piece. Magnum Opus. Recommend

  • fatima haider

    Well Said! We must build the momentum from hereon.. My prayers for Shazeb’s family..a suggestion. We should contsct anyone we know who is in the army, bureaucracy, politics nd remind them of their duty to stand up for ShazebRecommend

  • Sab33N

    I hope one day people living in our villages will stand up against the attrocities committed by these feudals. They will understand that fuedals are not their gods. They will stand up for thier rights. They will stop working for these fuedals. They will stop voting for these fuedals. They will claim back what is rightfully theirs from these fuedals and they will educate their children to ensure generations coming next do not become slaves to these feudals. I know its far fetched and I know it may not happen in my life time. But change eventually comes. It will come. Till that time .. I will hope and .. pray. Long live Pakistan.Recommend

  • Liberal

    how many of Karachi’s monthly quota of killings are carried out by evil ‘feudals’? and how many get killed by militant wings of liberal parties ? .. I condemn killing of shahzeb .. it was tragic incident .. but if we show same outrage that civil society and social media have shown on shahzeb’s killing for each & every person get killed in karachi by namaloom afrad .. karachi will be much more peaceful .. Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    So when a hundred devils died, the first feudal was born?Recommend

  • Mahi

    Nicely put up,the article brought tears in my eyes as well.Hopefully,one day we will have a safe Karachi and safe Pakistan.
    Jab roti sasti hogi aur mehngi hogi jaan,
    ek din ayega jab aisa hoga Pakistan,hum sab dekhein ge.Recommend

  • Faiq Lodhi

    A beautifully written piece. I hope this article brings some awareness to the young and educated children of the feudal lords as to what their actions can do and that, by the end of the day, their acts will also lead to dire consequences. Even if they themselves do not realize it.Recommend

  • Sane

    Supreme Court took Suo Moto as the state (Sindh and Federal Govt.) failed to arrest the culprits. Rather remained supportive to save feudals of their ilk. People really now need to come out against these handful criminal feudals. Civil Society must start a movement to eradicate such people. It’s really now or never situation. Otherwise, no one would be able to control them. Recommend

  • Sane

    There shall be peace only when we stop voting feudals and sending them to assemblies. Otherwise please stop crying. Voting is supporting. You vote a criminal means you are criminal yourself.Recommend

  • Rashid Aziz

    Very well written. InshaAllah Shahzaib Justice Movement will become an example that Pakistani youth have enough power and courage to fight against these brutal feuds and implement justice in the country. Just one protest resulted in Suo motu Action of Honorable Chief Justice.

    United we stand and divided we fall.Recommend

  • saif

    it could have very well been me since i live in the same vicinity and dont really welcome being bullied by big SUVs followed by vigos full of guard , at least now i understand why my mother never wanted me to take a stand every time i said that it is my right and its just not a matter of changing a lane for them or leaving a parking spot ,these people should be put in place and frankly speaking i would rather have the FATA or Texas model in khi where everyone is armed and able to protect himself on the spot rather than a few highly armed people who can do whatever they want to wherever they want to . They do this because they do not fear retaliation from us “coward shehri ” people. Expecting the whole system to change is something that i m not up for. We need a short term solution first where a feudal or any influential person knows that he might have to pay for murder there and then and not that he would escape the red tape because his dad is Sikander jatoi ,there should be no escape, if fear of law doesnt scare these people i am sure fear of being shot will and we can do the paper work later in which whoevers fault it is can be decided.Recommend

  • A Pakistani.

    Definitely a Good piece. I hope this brings a Change in our Country as we really need it now.Recommend

  • Asadullah Mahmood

    Only a peoples’ revolution can bring about genuine land reforms to end the menace of feudalism. The Awami League won the 1970 elections and could have ended feudal monopoly of Pakistan politics but the feudal lords from West Pakistan did not attend the National Assembly session called in Dacca in March 1971 and denied majority rule so that they could continue to enjoy their feudal power.Recommend

  • http://comments Sultan Ahmed

    Where this bloody proccess would stop,
    there are power of money,revenge monoplyare virus under operating
    which destroyed our glorious trations.

    Injustice is a basic element that inclined aggressive designs to committ such henious crime.
    Justice is essential,justice is indispensableRecommend

  • http://comments Sultan Ahmed

    History change its chaper,
    but we are failed to change our traditions of revenge,preference attitudesand babaric designs which inclined us to committ such hate ful crimes.Recommend

  • http://comments Sultan Ahmed

    Now remaings need justice it is essential for prolonged patience.Recommend

  • http://comments Sultan Ahmed

    Whe i look around see millions such incidents what is behind the scene,barbaric and aggressive designsRecommend

  • Truth

    Areeba . . . this killer Jatoi is not a feudal.

    He is the son of a businessman who does major road construction work etc. They are very very rich but are not old time feudals.

    The father was a poor man and they are relatively newly rich.

    NOT ALL FEUDALS ARE BAD.Recommend

  • Jatoi

    Areeba have you fallen for Shahzeb? Do you know what the entire story was before you presume Shahzeb is innocent?Recommend

  • Azmat

    The media should also let the people know that Jatois and Talpurs are Balochi tribes not Sindhi tribes.Recommend

  • Wadera

    wish these guys should also protest when innocent are killed by so-called political party of karachi…how insane is the society..how many murderers previously u remember were done by feudals..
    how could u blame feudal for shazeb murderRecommend

  • http://n/a toron

    we must get rid of usa uk saudees raw agents .who has made karachi so dangerious city , fuedals should be finished like india has done . there is no place for this kinds of exploitations . either people do farming or give it away , soon these fuedals will kill each others .this 20 yrs old kid is a live example .Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Asadullah Mahmood:
    .
    Who hindered them from attending the session in Dhaka? A feudal lord from Larkana who sold the idea to the gullible folk that he was going to implement socialism in the country.
    .
    As long as you remain gullible, there is always going to be a Bhutto, a Zardari or whatever the name may be, ready to sell you down the line.
    .
    Political awareness has to be brought among the public by inculcating true democratic values through the right sort of education. Our emotions are easily affected by the smoke and thunder of the speeches of politicians. We have to see through their act as they are nothing but fourth class performers from a Nautanki. Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Truth:
    “…NOT ALL FEUDALS ARE BAD.”

    .
    Yes, some are not. Feudal or not, all killers are bad. They are very very bad.Recommend

  • Sane

    @Jatoi:

    Areeba have you fallen for Shahzeb? Do you know what the entire story was before you presume Shahzeb is innocent?

    Stop being personal and refrain from insinuation. Whatever was the ‘story’, murdering was justified? Recommend

  • HUMAN

    @Jatoi:

    we all know the correct story we are just waiting for those two murderers to be HANGED
    I hope Hanged in Public Recommend

  • Queen

    It would have better if the Sindh government would have taken notice of the case before the Supreme Court. It is after all the responsibility of an elected government to arrest the culprits. Recommend

  • Aahjiz BayNawa

    @Abid P Khan
    It was not just a single feudal lord but a bunch of others behind him who together put up the pressure for not transferring power to the majority party so the feudal lords could continue to enjoy their monopoly of power, pelf, and privilege.Recommend

  • Muhammard Rizwan Ali

    Beleive me, if these killers are not arrested and punish.

    This will a new tridition of these kind of Fuedals,when they dont like any body they kill
    no matter, who is victum.

    Hope so much from CJ, only hopeRecommend

  • Muhammad

    Injustice in all its shape and faces is condemnable. Shahzeb’s case shall be dealt with all the justice by the authorities concerned rather than making it a media trial. Media, bloggers and socialities shall on the other hand deliver justice on thier part. Why just Shahzeb, why only Malala, why not same fury and same protests when Saad Farooq was gunned down in same city, Karachi, 3 days after his Walima, he didnt had any argument, any brawl but yet he was gunned downed in broad day light only because he was an Ahmadi, he was one of 10s of Ahmadiis killed in KArachi in last quarter of 2012. Yet no civil rights activist, no socialities no so called blogger came to raise voise againts Saad’s murder.neither did media riase voice, nor did Supreme court take suo moto action. Why? why some lives are more precious than others? why this media and social unjustice? Recommend

  • No name

    why only Malala and Shahzeb?? more than 2000 people were killed only in Karachi no one is there to raise the voice ?? now call me a Taliban religious extremist or hypocrite and i will smile upon your foolishness :)Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Aahjiz BayNawa:
    “@Abid P Khan
    It was not just a single feudal lord but a bunch of others behind him who together put up the pressure for not transferring power to the majority party so the feudal lords could continue to enjoy their monopoly of power, pelf, and privilege.”

    .
    Spot on my friend. The whole gang with cousins and all lined up behind him to pelf and plunder the silliest people on earth. They also saw to it that democracy could not take root in the country. Recommend

  • Sharjeel

    In the last few days i have seen quite a few people asking for justice for late shahzeb . may he RIP . he was muredered in cold blood , awful . killer escaped , awful, also very familiar , happens all the time .but i cannot digest the reaction of the media to a single killing . my point being TENS are killed daily in karachi , in lahore in every part of the country . and no body raises an eyebrow .nobody seems to notice it . news agencies display the news on screens , mention them once or twice in the news a few coloumns are written on general voilence and situation in the countery but no body has taken to roads for the people who die on daily basis . why ? let me tell you why because they are poor , not well connected , don’t have any relative in media or police . so not even dogs bark when they die . and one day a well connected young lad from an affluent family dies and suddenly all news channels are shouting there guts out for justice . why ? i am not saying that i am not abhorred by the death of shahzeb but i am equally disguted by the death of ordinary people . all i am saying is stop being a hypocrite if you people or anyone is against voilence let your stance be indiscriminate . speak for everyone or none . PEACE .Recommend

  • Ammar

    u guys needs to understand wht is feudalism and who is a feudal..you ppl are only raising for voice bcz of your negative perception against the waderas…more then 6000 innocent people were killed in khi..who killed them???Recommend

  • Truth

    @Abid P Khan:
    All killers are not bad.
    Some are trained and paid for by your tax rupees.
    They were “innocent” once.
    Some are well educated hanging judges.
    Some kill in self defense.
    Some kill accidentally.
    Some are mentally ill.
    .
    It is criminal to live in a black & white world.
    .
    Live intelligently.Recommend

  • http://politicalareeba.tumblr.com Areeba

    This article was not return to condemn feudalism. It was also not written to imply that only one or two publicized deaths should be investigated. It was written to emphasise that lawlessness and corruption are so ingrained in the society we live in, that one blast, one death doesn’t shake us anymore. And in order for order to resume, we have to get rid of this apathy. The typical reaction after we hear news of a blast is to call friends and family, confirm they are home safely, and then forget about it till the next one. We’ve all established that whoever is in charge is not putting an end to terrorism, corruption, whatever we want to call it. But we have assumed that it is also not our job. We subconsciously decided to be helpless victims, a phenomena that means this chaos will continue. Unless we make SOMETHING a catalyst and raise our voice against it. We need to pick SOMETHING as a vehicle for change. That could be Malala, Shahzeb, fedualism, nepotism, street mugging, littering, whatever moves us. But we need to begin somewhere, without further delay. Recommend

  • http://politicalareeba.tumblr.com Areeba

    written*Recommend

  • Truth

    Areeba, nothing short of a revolution is going to start the change we need. Yes we need a vehicle, a tipping point event, to get the people on to the streets.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Truth:
    In societies that have progressed, killing of any human being is considered inhuman.Recommend

  • Ammar

    There was no problem if u would have condemned fedualism.fedualism needs to be condemned…problem is ppl use to associate it with the waderas only..actually fedualism is a mindset and anyone can be a feudal you doesnt need to own a land to become a feudal..
    tiff with members of a feudal family.
    besides tht how could u say that the murderers belong from a feudal family..or associating label of feudals to them..Recommend

  • Truth

    @Abid P Khan:
    No doubt, but my point is that not all killers are bad.
    To be inhuman does not always mean to be bad.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Truth:
    “No doubt, but my point is that not all killers are bad.
    To be inhuman does not always mean to be bad.”

    .
    The person who kills another human being has lost his humanity.
    Isn’t there condemnation in religion about killing even one person being intolerable?Recommend

  • Queen

    Hats off to Shahzaib Khanzada and Express Tribune for highlighting this issue

    We want justice for Shahzeb KhanRecommend

  • Baba Ji

    very sad … but we earned it … we worked really hard to be in this pit !!!!!Recommend

  • zafar iqbal

    Murder of Shahzeb by the feudalists is a clear example of above the law status of feudalism in Pakistan.Recommend

  • sikander

    Please, we should not make this incident to highlight nationalities, casts and tribes. We must understand that since the day a stupid dictator Gen Musharraf violated and disgraced the LAW and its custodian (chief Justice) and over that he introduced NRO many culprits like shahrukh and siraj are not afraid that anything could be done against them because of their status. Oh my country men please wake up and force these people to respect law. This can only be done by exerting full pressure on these idiots of PPP government.Recommend

  • hajiphul jaan

    shahzeb jatoi is not fuedal. his father siknder jatoi is cotractor,busineman Recommend

  • Insaan

    Do you know what the entire story was before you presume Shahzeb is innocent?

    According to the story in the media.c, Shahzeb appears to be innocent. He did not have a gun. These guys shot him and when they noticed he still was alive, fired more shots to finish him off.

    Why these guys ran away from homes?Recommend

  • bk

    Areeba I personally think people in our country should have thought about these issues when they were dying for democracy in Pakistan. I personally think Musharraf was a gr8 leader for Pakistan and I stand by it. Yes he did mistakes in the latter part of his tenure but who doesn’t make mistakes. More importantly, we were respected all over the world. I was not in favour of democracy and still am not because we are not ready for it. As for feudalism, again it was us urbuners who condemned any step taken against feudals, so how can we whine when we face consequences of our own actions.Recommend

  • http://www.scamabouter.com Arslan Khalid

    Nice post i love this post you r a great writer great work
    link textRecommend