Don’t deny it, Pakistan. We are responsible for the teenage couple’s suicide!

Published: September 3, 2015
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A teenage boy shot a 15-year-old girl and then himself at their school premises in Soldier Bazaar.

A teenage boy shot a 15-year-old girl and then himself at their school premises in Soldier Bazaar. A teenage boy shot a 15-year-old girl and then himself at their school premises in Soldier Bazaar. 
PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

Sadly, there is nothing unusual about teenage suicide. Nothing new about the reason behind it either. Recently, two teenagers, aged 15 and 16, killed themselves at their school in Karachi, apparently because they were ‘in love’ and did not expect their families to consent to them marrying each other.

According to The Express Tribune, the boy shot the girl first as per her request before pulling the trigger on himself. The young couple had left behind two suicide notes for their parents. Both of them said that they were aware that their parents would never allow them to get married which is why they decided to take their lives. Both letters, which appear to be written by the same person, requested the parents to honour their dying wish to be buried next to each other.

Whatever the facts of the matter, keeping in mind that in such cases the facts are never clear, the reality is that these two children died and our hearts go out to their families during this terrible time. May the two children rest in peace, and may Allah (SWT) give their families strength to bear their loss.

Teen years are never easy. With turbulent hormone levels and uncertain judgement, it is hardly surprising that suicide is a significant cause of death amongst teenagers.

It is as true that parenthood is not easy either, and being a parent of teenage children is particularly difficult. Like any profession, being a parent is learned on the job. To expect a ready-made sage to emerge as a result of a nikkah and the process of childbirth is naive in the extreme. Therefore, to blame the parents for this or any similar case is cruel and indecent. The reaction to this awful incident is what invites comments the most.

Reports of this tragedy elicited scores of comments within the day, most of which passed a harsh sentence on the parents. Strange, because which of us is without error as a parent and can throw the first stone? And how wrong is it to jump to conclusions at a time like this, particularly when all is conjecture and none of the facts are clearly presented before us? Even were it otherwise, it is obvious that our compatriots stand in need of sensitivity.

Other commentators pointed fingers at Hollywood, Bollywood, local television plays, Indian and others, computers, iPads, mobile phones, and free phone packages, 3G networks, video games, co-education, little religion, no love and too many firearms. I looked but could not find any allusions to the CIA or Mossad, but I am sure they will turn up in due course if they’re not already there, camouflaged by the reference to movies.

We must learn the sheer inevitability of technology. It is like the sexual urge. It will happen and suppressing it will create problems. You can only learn to use it in the right way. So TV will happen. Computers will happen, as will books, movies, cartoons, and YouTube. Ban it as much as you will. People will find them, read them, see them, hear them, and more so if they are banned. I would not have cared two hoots for it but because it was banned, I admit to having read the book that was set to become Salman Rushdie’s great flop before it was banned.

The thing that can and must be controlled in some way is the easy access to firearms. What is being done about this? And about the reason why so many persons possess firearms in the first place? The possession of firearms is very often a result of a very real perception of a lack of security. Even so, the possession of firearms is open to abuse. Remember how Salman Taseer was killed?

Security is a state concern which it has shamelessly shirked along with most of its other responsibilities. What is being done to make this country more secure, other than making it over to arbitrary justice handed out by unqualified courts?

And there are many other persons who possess firearms with a view to aggression rather than self-protection. What is being done about them?

The other point in this case is that the young boy, being an Ismaili, would not have been accepted by the girl’s family, or so it is reported in the news. Who knows what the facts of the case are, as I said before, and I stress on this again. Certainly, the local SHO had no reservations about claiming that the two were very young and came from different communities, and ‘which parents would have allowed this?’ It could be that he was referring to them being underage, but he could equally be referring to their belonging to separate communities.

And that is probably the saddest thing of all, that the factor of community is ever an issue. Even if that is not the truth in this particular incident, there is the fact that the SHO seems it fit to say so, the fact that so many people would agree that two different communities may not intermarry, even if they both call themselves Muslim. If this is not a problem of our own creation, what is? Why, at every instant, do we blame someone else for our problems?

Like other countries, Pakistan has a host of issues. It is time we recognised that our society and no one else is at fault in most tragedies that occur here. We have lost the ability to share, coexist and debate as a society and the results are before us.

Many years ago, a person who committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in the US left a note that read,

“I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”

If you go out in any of the cities in Pakistan and smile at a stranger on the road somewhere, he will look at you stonily and walk on. Not one person will smile and offer you courtesy, not one will make way on the road, open a door for you, or smile and thank you if you do. By these standards, all the persons in Pakistani cities should kill themselves forthwith. This is not an issue created by cell phone packages, by Bollywood or co-educational schooling. It is not the fault of RAW, the CIA or Mossad. This is us, the people of Pakistan ourselves as a society.

Let us forget the Golden Gate Bridge and acknowledge the issues right here, in Anarkali Bazaar, in Landhi, Korangi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta, and recognise the ones who created them – we and I.

When something goes wrong, let us examine where we went wrong, and take pity on those who suffer as a result of these tragedies. It’s time to cultivate some sensitivity, a modicum of sense, and learn to live in this world with grace. It is a world where technology rides on our shoulders and a world where all communities must learn to live together now, or die.

Rabia.Ahmed

Rabia Ahmed

The author is a freelance writer and translator.

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

  • Fahimuddin

    See the letter, “is janam may hum saath nahe reh saktay”, “Allah k pass hum aik saktay hyn”. One line for this all un-islamic training by parentsRecommend

  • Parvez

    Very nicely put…….on this subject and as we are talking of Pakistan let us not shy away from the fact that religion and the way that it has and is being propagated has a significant role to play in the development of the mindset that prevails …..though it could and should play a benevolent cathartic role……it does the opposite.Recommend

  • Naila

    I am yet to accept that they were a “couple”. I cant comprehend how people can sit there and trust the words of a murderer. With all due respect Ms Ahmed, until things are proven, I suggest you leave the “society” of Pakistan out of this.Recommend

  • Queen

    The author has asked us to “examine where we went wrong’ yet she has highlighted the fact that the boy and girl carried out this sad incident because they belonged to different communities. Let’s not drag religion in to this as it will do nothing but to instill hatred among those who are left behind. We may never know what prompted the kids to commit this act but we can at least pray for their departed souls and for their parents.Recommend

  • Love Pakistan

    Very well written article and right to the core. It us who have lost the social values, the willingness to co-exist among different communities. In our society, it is very easy for any one to judge somebody but has that person even realized what he or she has done for the society? The last time some one smiled at a passerby, gave way to another car, passerby or even women or children crossing roads. I fail to understand that a nation built on Islamic values have completely forgotten those values. Wake up people. If we don’t change our ways today, these things can come around to haunt one of today, God forbid.Recommend

  • Aebak

    One of the most ignorant and ill informed pieces of analysis this organisation has ever produced. There was nothing new in the article other than the claim that firearm ownership is to blame and should be banned. If both of them would have jumped off a bridge then would the writer have blamed bridge building, and banned construction of bridges? Today when our law enforcement agencies are doing overtime trying to tackle terrorism, legal firearm ownership is direly needed. Where responsible law abiding citizens spend their own funds to protect them selves from crime, that is prevalent on every street corner across the country and police are unable to be at everywhere at the same time. Criminals do not get licensed guns, they find illegal firearms which should be fought against. But to stop ordinary citizens from being able to protect themselves only goes on to help the criminals. Her qualifier for her argument seems to be the assassination of Salman Taseer, hasn’t anyone ever informed the writer that he was killed by a policeman. According to her solution should we disarm the police force too? Its a shamefully ignorant opinion piece.Recommend

  • umm Sarah

    ET,you shouldn’t have printed the deceased boy’s letter.Could you please explain why you felt the need to do so?Perhaps it would help increase your readership .
    This is a very sad incident and we cannot imagine what the families are going through.Did you guys even think about the consequences of publishing this letter ,it only makes matters worse for them.Already the people are being so judgemental about them.
    This is a family newspaper not a tabloid ,you have some moral obligations. Recommend

  • Faran

    a good writing, thank you ma’am.Recommend

  • abdpak

    The media of Pakistan is responsible for that because if you would have shown the real image of Islam then it would never had happened. In Islam love marriage is allowed. Along with so called Aalims and Mullahs our media also has responsibility to educated the people with Islam. Shame on us really shame on us. Also by spreading this news we are informing more teenagers so they can follow the same footsteps of the deceased teenagers.Recommend

  • Omer

    The writer theme quite be correct after her example of golden gate bridge the we have no concern of anybody life, we do not think and work for humans we are so much busy even we do not have time to even sit with our children and teach them, share their ideas talk with them about good and bad allowed and disallowed .. we should scheduled our every day time for human being cause as our Prophet ( salalahu alahay wasallam) taught to us …that every human is precious and we have a duty to save them from Bad and Fire of this life and after the life of this world…
    The thinkable thing is that in all of our lives… my self how much I think in my every action that my Rab is seeing me and what will i answer if I do wrong other than what my Rab wants me the action which he likes.. we all alhamdulillah muslims we should see what my Rab say about it..we just google the word ‘ suicide in islam’ … the every day discussion about the commandments and the way of our deen will be helpful to save our children and everybody for this kind of action the boy and a girl did…Recommend

  • Humza Irfan

    Absolutely right! Since this story broke we have assumed they were a couple without accepting any evidence. And yes do note that legally speaking and based on information so far it is clear that the BOY committed murder and then killed himself. The girl DID NOT commit suicide because she was shot by the boy. So by definition the girl DID NOT commit suicide. Unfortunately this logic is very hard to grasp by our journalists.Recommend

  • Abasin Khandawar

    I have a problem with the title of this article. If ‘we’ are responsible for the teenage couple suicide, why is ‘Pakistan’ being confronted here? We Pakistanis, I believe, are the luckiest people on this planet. The word ‘Pakistan’ is always readily available for our ridiculing. It also comes in handy during our escape from our responsibilities. We would say at the top of our lungs, “Ye Pakistan hai, yahan sab chalta hai!”. Yes, the same phrase comes as the finest excuse to mind when we tend to do something abominable or wrong.

    I always wonder k bichare Pakistan ka kya qusoor? Is it not ‘us’ who is responsible? Is it not ‘us’ who will build it the right way?Recommend