Raza Habib Raja
Right now the media is voicing its vociferous opposition to the sentence handed to Dr. Afia Siddiqui. The entire case, even before the verdict was announced, had become an overly emotional episode for the Pakistanis. The media has been whipping a lot of frenzy for a considerable period of time. This case overshadows even horrendous acts of terrorism in terms of the condemnation generated.
I will not debate the technical aspects of the case as frankly the court which gave the verdict was better equipped to weigh and decide. We often have the tendency to become “experts” while having flimsy evidence. During the past two years particularly when the case was being fought in US, Ms Afia’s was simply assumed to be a victim of some grand conspiracy and this presumption was propagated everywhere on the media. The hue and cry which the media constantly whipped and is continuing to whip often rode on nothing concrete in terms of evidence. All the time, Miss Afia was simply assumed as a victim of a grand conspiracy of the United States and nothing else.
Having followed the case over the past two years, I do acknowledge that the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and subsequent reappearance are suspicious. These circumstances do pose several questions particularly on the ways of our intelligence networks. However to spin stories that the entire case was fabricated by the US to punish Miss Afia is frankly stretching things too much.
It has often defied my cognitive faculties that what possible “benefit” can US get by building a totally fabricated case against her. If anything the US government was aware of the possible backlash the guilty verdict would have caused. And the backlash is there and increasing with every moment.
All the right wing elements in Pakistan are again having a field day. Once again our attention is completely captured by this incidence and our anger is not because of “unfairness” of the verdict but in reality is underpinned by our hatred of USA. It is not because an “innocent” woman has been penalised.
These voices are completely silent when far sinister things happen to our own women in Pakistan. For those who are really passionate about “inhuman” treatment to the daughter of the nation, let me remind them that our country has draconian laws like Hadood ordinance against women. Let me remind them that there are many women languishing in Pakistani jails and in far more inhuman state. I find their silence hypocritical and shameless on those issues. In fact the right wing religious conservatives in our country who are most vocal against Afia verdict right now are the ones who oppose revocation of draconian laws like Hadood.
But then we have developed this mindset where we get more angry not on the severity of the incidence but on whether it has some direct or indirect linkage with US and the West.
We continue to have this misplaced anger and consequently end up damaging ourselves. Afia’s case was not construed as a case of a woman wrongly accused but as a conspiracy of USA to defame Muslims and hence the overboard reaction. It is this mindset which needs to be changed.