Be it Fakhra Younus or Wali Babar from Karachi, Nafees Khan of Mith Ranjha, they are victims of a feudal mindset which dominates our corridors of power in cities, towns and villages. It is not just rural landed illiterates which are accused of the curse of this feudal mindset, but also urban mafias which have been smitten by this evil.
Both run private torture cells, private jails and armed criminal gangs, and resort to shut down of markets within their turf to blackmail administration and enforce their writ. Threats of intimidation, use of force and abuse of political clout, or resort to extortion and kidnapping for ransom takes place in cities, while in villages they are involved in protection rackets and stealing of cattle.
The urban and rural feudals are involved in land grabbing, and prevail on law enforcement agencies, exploiting their political influences, each joining every government that is in power in their province or at federal level.
The urban feudal exercises direct control over media, through threats and periodic target killings of journalists, who dare to cross the line and expose their illegal practices. It was shocking to see a talk show where a platform was provided to Bilal Khar, without a fair chance to any surviving relative of Fakhra, who may dare to point a finger at him.
Both patronise criminals, who rob citizens, be it in the shape of street crimes, car grabbing, or providing patronage to robber barons that terrorize those who travel by road. As a society we have degenerated to such lows that it had to be Italy which offered refuge to Fakhra, or Canada to Dr Shazia Khalid, instead of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, because their abusers were either an electable feudal or part of establishment. Nothing much has changed in eight years of martial law, or four years of democratic rule to bring these culprits to justice. It is unfortunate that justice in Pakistan is denied on technicalities by hiring shrewd lawyers, while victims of brutality die in vain, frustrated by years of denial of justice.
MALIK TARIQ ALI