The murder of Noor Mukaddam in Islamabad did not capture the attention of the public because of the prominence of the parents(her father was a former ambassador, the accused is the scion of a well-known business family), or the brutality of the killing (which included a beheading), but the garish light it threw on a sociey where a toxic misogyny combined with a culture where violence is not so much condoned as expected. A new factor in the mixture is the sense of entitlement of the accused,who loudly proclaimed at his initial magisterial appearance that he was a US citizen, as if that made any difference. Another problem is that the accused’s mental problems have been highlighted: not so much the problems,as their not being treated objectively, but as some sort of stigma.
Some problems have been inadvertently highlighted. First is the role of social media in bringing such cases to the fore. It is almost as if the police has decided not to respond until the social media galvanizes it. Secondly there is the distinct impression that Islamabad is not a safe city. This is not the first incident involving an ambassador’s daughter. Only recently the disappearance of the Afghhnambassador’s daughter caused a major diplomatic row. Interior Minister Sh Rashid Ahmad tried to deflect attention by claiming that it had been an Indian conspiracy, but has so far not made any claims trying to dismiss the present incident. Perhaps someone has told him that his efforts harm the police more than they help. Earlier, there had been the weird case of Usman Mirza and his entrapment ring. Things are happening in the federal capital because a loose governmental grip has meant that Islamabad is becoming a place to try it on. Criminals are pushing limits and are being left alone.
It is not just a matter of obtaining justice for the dead woman. It is no longer a matter of punishing the perpetrator. Thekiller must be tried and punished to prove that society can handle such events. More than any consciousness-raising events, it must be made clear that punishment is inevitable, no matter whose son one is, no matter which country one is a citizen of.