UncategorizedVOLUME 16 ISSUE # 22

Rising social crime

Pakistani society has, unfortunately, become an immoral and intolerant society. Corruption, exploitation, human rights abuse, violence, hunger, poverty, rape, child molestation, ignorance, and other social evils have increased many times. No one can dare challenge the ruling elite, including politicians, religious leaders, bureaucracy, judiciary, businesspeople, feudal lords, pirs and madrassa teachers for their bad, unethical practices and policies.

Lawmakers, who are supposed to represent the people of Pakistan, acted shamelessly in the National Assembly on June 15. The entire world watched that the Pakistani parliamentarians, including MNAs, ministers, state ministers, ministerial committee heads and heads of parliamentary committees, hurled insults at each other. Sheikh Rohail Asghar, a PML-N MNA from Lahore, declared “using abusive language the culture of Punjab”. It is very tragic and unfortunate because Punjab is the land of Sufi saints, like Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Sultan Bahu and Mian Muhammad Bakhsh. All the saints preached love and brotherhood in their teachings. Therefore, the culture of Punjab is brotherhood, love, respect and fraternity, not abusive language, hatred and violence.

In another case, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister, slapped PPP MNA Qadir Khan Mandokhail on the set of a private TV show without any regret. She lost her temper when the PPP leader mentioned her comments on a train tragedy in Sindh’s Ghotki district and her alleged corruption as a minister in the PPP government.

The PTI leadership has not taken any action against her. Rather, it was reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan praised her violent action against the PPP leader. It is a very bad gesture as it encourages hatred, insulting attitude and abusive language in the party and society.

On the other hand, another case of seminary abuse has shaken entire society. A 70-year-old cleric and JUI leader Mufti Azizur Rehman’s video went viral on the Internet, in which he is molesting and abusing a seminary student. “If justice is not provided, I will commit suicide,” said the victim in the viral video. The video sparked outrage among the people of Pakistan. Under the pressure of social media and the people, the police have registered a case and arrested the JUI leader. He has also confessed the crime. The cleric, in his confessional statement, said, “The video of molestation is of me; I made a mistake and I’m embarrassed about it.” He further stated that the “student videotaped the occurrence out of my knowledge,” adding, “When I found out (about the video) I told him not to disseminate it. He made the video viral despite the fact I had warned him about it. After it went viral, my sons called him out and threatened him (of consequences),” the cleric added. Shockingly, before the police statement, the cleric had made entirely different pretexts for his crime while putting his hand on the holy Quran in a video.

The complainant’s shocking statement about the cleric in the FIR reveals the grave crimes and sins which are being committed in madrassas by so-called teachers and fake preachers of Islam. It also exposes the helplessness of poor seminary students, who are exploited by their evil teachers. According to the report, the victim was banned from taking exams for three years after being accused of cheating by the cleric. When the youth asked the cleric to reconsider the penalty, he told him to “make him happy” first. The helpless and poor student had no other option left other than to make the cleric happy. Mufti Azizur Rehman molested the victim for three years on the false promise that “he would soon remove the ban and even ensure that he passed the exams”. The cleric continued the exploitation without any fear of Allah and the madrassa management.

After his original three-year penalty had passed, the victim approached the administration. Despite investigating his claims, the administration accused him of lying because the cleric was a “respected and pious man”. The cleric started threatening the victim when he found out about the complaint. After it, the victim started recording their interactions to collect irrefutable proof. The superintendent, Asadullah Farooq, of the madrassa stated: “We have fired the cleric after the video went viral. Mufti Rehman and his sons have been asked to leave immediately and the madrassa is not responsible for any of their evil crimes”. However, no legal action was taken against the Mufti by the madrassa administration. The Mufti and his family remained in the madrassa without any fear. The administration did not inform the police about the cleric’s evil and criminal act. It is a criminal negligence committed by the madrassa administration. It means the management is also involved in the crime. It also shows the utter failure of the institution. The madrassa failed to fulfill its responsibility of protecting its students.

Moreover, the JUI has suspended the membership of Mufti Rehman. Unfortunately, no prominent religious leader has yet condemned the evil act. Prominent clerics do not have time to issue a fatwa or call for justice against any act which suits their political and economic goals. A local newspaper writes: “Everyone knows the rape culture exists but then again, these cases are very scarcely discussed, let alone tried. Call it a perk of the untouchable status our clerics enjoy; where questioning their authority is instantaneously tantamount to a grave sin, the horrors of paedophilia have become a part and parcel of the madrassa culture, where most victims do not have the confidence to defy their spiritual guide. After all, haven’t we all been raised with the notion that following teachers leads to great success?”

According to Sahil, an NGO, around eight children were abused every day in 2020, an increase of 4pc from the previous year. The state has failed to control child rape. The Kasur child pornography mafia is still at large. The criminals involved in the Balochistan University scandal have not yet been arrested. The state should take stern action against paedophiles, if it wants to create a healthy society. The print, electronic and social media should be used to create awareness and educate people, including parents, children and teachers.