Those Who Cast the First Stone

The Bible [King James Version], John 8:1-7, relates an incident where a woman accused of adultery was brought before Prophet Jesus son of Mary (salutations be upon them) by the scribes and Pharisees. They sought his opinion, stressing that the law of Moses prescribes stoning to death for such a crime. At first, he avoided answering them, but when they insisted, he said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

And when they which heard it, they went out one by one (John 8:9).

On 16 December 2014, the Tehrike Taliban Pakistan made a proclaimed attack on a military-run grade school in Peshawar killing 149, including 135 children. The reaction was swift, the army hanged six death row prisoners who had been found guilty of terrorism by court martial. And a beleaguered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, riled by accusations of stealing the popular mandate in May 2013 elections, quickly rescinded the moratorium on capital punishment. According to the Agence France-Presse some 500 convicts are on death row, who have exhausted all the appeals, their mercy petitions have been turned down by the president and their executions will take place in coming weeks.

The Peshawar carnage has led to the Nawaz Sharif regime, which had marshaled its allies in September 2014 to repose absolute trust in strengthening “democracy” (which many Pakistanis identify as “Loot-ocracy”) read status quo. The defenders being none other than a gallery of rogues that has ruled or in reality riled the country over decades: Asif Zardari and his Pakistan People Party (or to some, Plunder Pakistan Party), Maulana Fazlur (“Diesel”) Rahman of his eponymous Jamiat Ulema-i Islam-Fazl, Asfandayar Wali and his Awami National Party, and the London-based British citizen Altaf Husain and his Muttahida Qaumi Movement. However, on Dec. 24, 2014, a consensus of political parties agreed to set up “special” read military courts for a period two years to cope with terrorism. Ayaz Amir, writing in The News December 23, 2014, rightly states, “So what we are seeing in the aftermath of Peshawar is a takeover in all but name, the army calling the shots and the government and the other political parties struggling to keep up with the army, almost afraid not to be out of step.”

In October 1999, Nawaz Sharif was formally ousted in a military coup but on Dec. 24, 2014, he has been formulated into a puppet — for two years for a start — with the military calling the shots.

The carnage has been condemned by all sections of Pakistani political establishment and the public. The most vocal have been the self-styled “civil society” — read the secular and “liberal” upper middle. There are widespread calls for coming down hard on the madrassahs, the religious schools that once formed the heart of the American and Saudi led anti-Soviet campaign operated from Pakistan.

Undoubtedly what has been wrought finds no justification in Islam or any other religion or thought or practice. The perpetrators’ justifications aside, they have no license to kill the innocent.

The “liberal” lobby is calling for the blood of the mullah. However, they conveniently overlook or are too isolated to examine the realities that have and continue to turnout ill-educated and indeed illiterate people to face the challenges of life. The political class populated by men and women whose sole purpose in not public services but to loot as much as possible and stack this loot overseas in banks and investments. The status quo class are include the established feudal class, scions of the loyalists nurtured by the British colonial rulers to serve their goals, and the new rich business class that in its turn draws strength from the ruling feudal class.

Interesting this “civil society” has yet to yet to raise their voice against the U.S. led drones campaign that continues to result in civilian deaths. For instance a nine months of research conducted by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School (Stanford Clinic) and the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law (NYU Clinic) in 2012 rejected the dominant United States narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan that it is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

One of the aims of Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement) is to reform the education sector where all citizen get equally opportunity to grow. It is this utterly neglected education sector that is driving the have-nots to seek what they are told ‘education’ in madrassahs, which however, provide their children, not only free education but necessities like food, clothing, books and housing. The products of these “institutions” are but semi-literate who lack the understanding the religion they seem to have learnt. And the outcome is students who can be misdirected to carryout heinous acts such as 16/12/14 carnage in Peshawar.

Pervez Nazir, wring in The Nation, December 24, 2014, states, “The status quo parties have no ideology worth the name; to cling to power is their obsession, and everything can be sacrificed at this altar. The consequences of their rule can be placed under one rubric: persecution by successive governments, in terms of social, economic, psychological, and political deprivation.” Nazir points out that “Another of the liberals’ hobby horse is the diatribe against the ‘Mullah’, a term that acquired a negative connotation during colonial rule, with Pakistani liberals internalizing this epithet. The mullahs are blamed for many things that are wrong in the country. This is misplaced. Because in order to do bad or good, you need power; if you do not have power you can only create a minor nuisance.” He stresses that it is not the mullahs who prevent hospitals [or schools] from being built, or who do corruption on a massive scale: the majority are just not near the loci of power to do so.

Before casting stones at the easily-misguided, the liberals and the political class has to find those who have not sinned. And they know who the sinners are: themselves.

Executing 500 or 5000 will not make a difference because an underfunded and neglected education and social sector will continue to pour new killers.

Punishments under Islamic Law are not intended to punish specific individuals, but rather they are intended to create a society to put an end to crimes or curb the crimes as much as possible. Punishments for certain crimes have to be applied fairly. Society must not have conducive conditions and environment for such crimes. That is why the Islamic governments are not supposed to impose punishments if they have conducive conditions for the crimes.

The military has gotten its way, and now it is be seen if the military simply does its Band-Aid operation f convicting and executing or force the hand of the de jure rulers to carry out meaningful social reforms so that the system stops throwing out angry and easily misled people.

And another object of attention will be the future course of action to be undertaken by Imran Khan and his PTI that was so near to bringing about changes that would have contributed to real democracy, when the Peshawar carnage halted the process. Will Nawaz agree to enact the promised and proposed electoral reforms? And will now the real rulers, the army allow such diversions when they are all focused speedy conviction and punishment.

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