A numbness to murder

Published: May 28, 2014

Both professionals were killed because they belonged to the sects different than those of their murderers. Both shared the common denomination of being the wrong kind of Muslims.

The murder on a mundane Monday morning was as meaningless as the murder on a tedious Tuesday morning. The details, however, differ in terms of bullet count.

Dr Mehdi Ali Qamar, an Ahmadi cardiologist based in the United States was visiting Pakistan to carry out voluntary work at a local hospital. On Monday morning, May 26, 2014, he was shot 11 times while he was visiting a cemetery in the town of Chenab Nagar.

On the other hand, Professor Shabbir Hussain Shah was a student service director at the University of Gujrat and a Shia by sect. On Tuesday morning, November 19, 2013, the bullets spewed on him when he was about to reach the university campus were countless.

These two murders are as meaningless to reason as they are meaningful to the murderers. Both professionals were killed because they belonged to sects different than those of their murderers. Both fell prey to the vicious on-going murder campaigns against Shias and Ahmadis. Both bore the brunt of their state’s inaction during the rising incidents of religiously motivated targeted killings of professionals. Both shared the common denomination of being the wrong kind of Muslims.

However, the most horrifying aspect of the whole state of affairs lies in the futility of the murders that have come to be an everyday phenomenon. Massacres have never been so inconspicuous before. Internalisation of violence is so axiomatic that it can only be defined in terms of numbness. Intellectuals and professionals have always been the foremost target throughout history when it comes to repressing the voices of dissent. But in this case, it is not even dissent that has brought the horrors of death upon the slain. It is merely their existence that has become their unforgiveable crime.

There are people who speak from the valley of death. They harbinger the new dawn for which they perished. They unite the living from their resting place and show them the path forward. And then there are those who go to eternal oblivion just after they are dead. They don’t speak to the living. Their eternal silence constitutes the dead conscience of those who are still living in this mortal world. The absence of their memory haunts the society forever. Ours fall under the latter category, those who are numerous and forgotten. Not only have we lost them but the count too. What we do possess though is the bullet count.

During the distant afternoons when Professor Shah would speak about Marxism’s relevance in modern times during Thinkers Forum’s gatherings in Gujrat, he never would have even imagined being gunned down because of his name or his belief. Similarly, when Dr Mehdi was volunteering for the second time at the Tahir Heart Institute, a hospital specialising in cardiac treatment, he never would have thought of getting shot because of his faith. But then, survival in the land of the pure is coupled with the cross you are bearing. This is all too similar to the Star of David put on the sleeves of Jews for identification purposes during the Holocaust by the Nazis. This was also done irrespective of their professions.

Messiahs have been murdered for not what they had done but for what they were. They do not speak to the living from their resting place. They will be joined by many very soon and they will fall silent collectively only to haunt the living with their silence. Piles upon piles of lives are destined to go wasted as long as the meta-narrative of hate and intolerance exists, until the state keeps excommunicating people and playing God, until spewing venom on pulpits is allowed. Such are the inconsequential murders of our times.

Until then, it is obligatory for poets to write poetry of pain, for perpetual pain has a right to poetic expression. Until then, it is necessary for benign observers to keep track of the trickle of blood that flows from under the doors, streets and keeps following the spear. Until then, it is imperative for writers to fearfully write about the withering innocence. Until then, it is essential for the living to keep breathing unashamedly.

After the 1995 massacre in Karachi on the occasion of Ayub Khan’s election, no one but Faiz Ahmed Faiz could enliven the unspeakable futility of the blood spilled in vain.

“Na razamgah mein barsa ke moatbir hota,

Kisi alam pe raqm ho ke mushtehar hota,

Pukarta raha beaasra, yatim lahu”

(It did not flow in the battlefield to win public acclaim,

Nor did it wet the battle flag to broadcast its fame,

It was the poor, orphaned blood, it cried out in vain)

Suleman Akhtar

Suleman Akhtar

A mechanical engineer belonging to Gujrat.

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

  • https://twitter.com/Kamranhayder1 Kamran Hayder

    Top professionals from Ahmadi and Shia community are constantly being targeted. Its hurts more when “neutral” people are too scared to take a side. We seem to be overtly sure about who’s a ‘traitor’, ‘infidel’ or ‘agent’, but conveniently confused and vague while taking a position in a matter like this…Recommend

  • fze

    “This is all too similar to the Star of David put on the sleeves of Jews for identification purposes during the Holocaust by the Nazis. This was also done irrespective of their professions.”

    So true and very significant. History remembers it as “fascism.” Are we becoming fascists? Look into your heart and find the answer. No, don’t give me any religious jargon as I know Islam does not allow anyone to be the judge and pronounce judgements rather it ask you to be tolerant and refrain from killings. Don’t try to be God on earth, deciding about other people’s lives and leave upto Him to decide.Recommend

  • Naila

    The Islamic Republic of Pakistan should remove the word ‘Islamic’ from its name, for nothing it does correlates with the teachings of the faith. Recommend

  • Hammad Mian

    For your kind information, Ahmedi Doctor was killed due to the property issues with his step brothers. Kindly do not put every killing in the bag of Sectarianism.Recommend

  • Hammad Mian

    This country was obtained on the name of religion and this will remain “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” forever. You go somewhere Un-islamic country.Recommend

  • Naila

    But tell me, where exactly in Pakistan is Islam being followed? Muslims in unislamic countries are better representations of this religion. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pakistan more than anything but making it a peoples republic would allow those of other faiths who also love Pakistan to survive here without being criticised. Recommend

  • Naila

    ……and you know this how?? Regardless, stop trying to brush the real issue under the carpet. Recommend

  • abhi099

    I wish every hindu in india would have said the exact same thing in 1947. We would have got rid of muslims easily. But alas they are still living here.Recommend

  • Kalash wala.

    ‘..murder campaigns against Shias, Ahmadis..’ The author of this
    blog should have been straight forward. Over the civilized world, this
    is called Genocide. Of Shias and Ahmadis. Notice… ‘looking the other
    way’ by politicians. Not a word from the Sharif twins, the Cricketer, Zardari,
    Baby Bhutto, Sherry Rehman, CM Khattak of K-P,..or CM Shah of Sindh.Recommend

  • Here_To_Stay

    Peddling a lie shows your contempt towards the Ahmadiyya MUSLIM community in your so called land of “PAK”. It says everything about your bigoted misogynistic country that has and continues to violate the human rights of women and minority religions and minority Islamic sects like the Ahmadiyya and Shia communities. Your constitution declaring Ahmadi non Muslims and Blasphemy laws gives a green pass to self righteous Mullahs to inculcate the minds of the ignorants and the weak to commit heinous crimes against humanity.Recommend

  • Imran Sharif Rizvi (Student)

    do you even logic bro?
    Explanation: The original comment meant that we should remove Islamic from our name, not to make us secular or ‘unislamic’ but because we had not lived upto our Islamic name. You should try and understand what is being said before getting angry mate.Recommend

  • MK

    Pakistan is “The most unislamic country” well not in name but in its true character.Recommend

  • Syeda KAzmi

    thats really a disrespectful comment… Islam doesn’t teach this..Recommend

  • Khizer Pasha

    on second thoughts, the word ‘Republic’ too.Recommend

  • Khizer Pasha

    Mr. Hammad Mian, we are there already.Recommend

  • samad

    Don’t change the name of Pakistan becoz ur so called mullah already changed Islam according to their own wishesRecommend

  • siesmann

    When people take on the role of God on themselves,they become evil.An irony in faith,but so true.It is the fruit of putting ignorant mullahs on a pedestal.Recommend

  • sam

    it may have been conceived in the name of religion. but Jinnah created Pakistan a secular state as he stated countless times. its zia who renamed and created the Islamic republic of Pakistan. the country as it is now and religion muddled in politics was never Jinnah’s idea and expectation of PakistanRecommend

  • pseudo-true believer

    Any evidence or statement from the family of victim that led to this conclusion? i dont think ull be able to find one. . Because you havent researched properly.Recommend

  • pseudo-true believer

    Great ! you can prevent it from changing and maintain its title by persecuting even more non muslims right! You like it this way, dont you *sigh Recommend

  • Nasir J

    And you know this from the fact that…..? you are his brother?Recommend

  • Nasir J

    Well there is nothing Islamic about your comments. So, I guess who gave you the right of policing Islam?Recommend

  • Ahmed

    And who told you this? Maybe you dreamt this up, too like all your other apologies!

    Mian saheb! People are being killed in the name of religion. You can keep your eyes close and give baseless apologies (basically lies) but the world around you goes on, killing more and more people.

    Apologists like you are a disgrace who even use false information and LIES to hide and brush the dirt under the carpet. Shame!Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Mian genius, Naila says we don’t practice Islam, it is sarcasm! she does not say we should give up on Islam, genius!

    By the way, somebody who has his blog display picture form a beach in some kafir country is telling people to go to an Non-Muslim country? I know you are genius but how big a hypocrite are you?!Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @hammad_mian:disqus Somebody with a picture on a beach in a “kafir” country telling people about leaving Pakistan.

    “Sharam tum ko magar nai ati”Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Kamranhayder1 Kamran Hayder

    @hammad_mian:disqus Sir almost 130 doctors have been killed since last year and almost all of them are Shia or Ahmadi.. Coincidence??Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Kamranhayder1 Kamran Hayder

    @hammad_mian:disqus treatment only starts when someone admits that he is ill and needs sone treatment. We are far away even from the first step. Please open your eyes !!Recommend

  • bajwa

    The force which made this country, shall unmake it – religion.Recommend

  • SamSal

    Bhaijaan, study history! Not from our school text books.
    Separation was a power game – we wanted to rule, which was not happening in India. So we played the religion card!Recommend

  • Ha-m-mad

    No …he actually hired killers to kill himself in order to spread false propaganda against pious sunnis.Recommend

  • Mj

    Nice observation. I was going to post a similar comment. Hypocrisy knows no bounds. Religion is for us poor Pakistanis to be imposed upon, whereas @hammad_mian:disqus is having the time of his life.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The more such disgraceful, criminal, shameful incidents occur……the focus shifts from the country, on to Islam and serious questions are now being raised about the way the clergy are propagating the religion so that violence is being justified in the name of religion………this is serious because if not checked it will not prove good.
    The question that must be asked is why are the right wing extremist clergy bent on damaging the religion and who are funding them to do this ??Recommend

  • Gul Bahadarullah Magsi.

    Simple answer. India is funding them. Just as India is funding the
    troubles in Balochistan
    Even the Dehati Aurats know this.Recommend

  • vasan

    Keep living in your conspiracy theories and cocoons. You will never see day lightRecommend

  • Parvez

    Thank you for accepting my contention……..now if you say the clergy / bad guys are being funded by India….the obvious reply is why is this being allowed. We have a government, we have a security establishment who repeatedly say they are capable of defeating all threats, but the situation keeps getting worse. So I think your simplistic view of others ‘ doing the dirty ‘ may have some truth but the lion share of the BLAME rests with us….and even the dehati aurats know this.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    People like him morphs into extremist then blow themselves up Recommend

  • Gul Bahadarullah Magsi.

    It might have missed you attention. Since you are in Papua New Guinea. The state does not have it’s writ anywhere. The bad guys bomb Isloo at will. The Burqa Mullah wanted to start his own country. Oh,..they even bomb the courts. Soldiers are
    killed at roadside. The really mean extremists, get funded by
    India through Afghanistan. And if they need more money, they
    do bank robberies,kidnapping etc. etc. etc. in Karachi.
    The Balochistan Insurgency is funded by India. So, if you do talk
    to Dehati Aurats,….er…they will run you out of town.Recommend