Condemn the Politics of Hate and Murder

Photo borrowed from

It seems that for all those opposed to the writ of the Pakistani federal government, murder of innocents and hatred for each other has now become a norm. There are, at the moment, two main militant movements against the state: The Taliban with their Al-Qaida allies, and the Baloch nationalist group the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) that claims members both from Mari and Bugti tribes.

In the process of their fight against the government, both groups–one religious and the other secular nationalist–have unleashed indiscriminate violence against common citizens of Pakistan. Just recently, BLA murdered Dr. Nazima Talib, a professor from the department of Mass Communications of Balochistan University. This was no random act of violence: the murderers knew whom to kill and they killed professor Talib while she was on her way home in a rickshaw. The purpose: to drive fear into the hearts of all non-Baloch residents of Quetta and Balochistan as the BLA’s stated mission is to create a Balochistan for Baloch people only.

Not surprisingly, though, the media and the Pakistani bloggers (Like Beena Sarwar and Urooj Zia and many others) have condemned this killing and these politics of hate and murder. But so far the leading Baloch leaders have voiced no such condemnation.

In my research on this topic, I also came across quite a few blogs by the Baloch nationalists. I was mostly sympathetic to their grievances against the past and present governments, but where I disagree with them the most is how they all tend to rationalize their violence against the innocent in the name of their brand of nationalism. Also interesting to read was the way the term “Punjabi” is mobilized by them as an overarching signifier of otherness. I just wondered as to how many of them had ever met a Punjabi and also as to whether one can really cover everyone living in the Punjab province as simply as a Punjabi. Being the most populated province of Pakistan, Punjab is extremely diverse in its ethnic, cultural, and class make-up. There are millions of Punjabis who live below the poverty line, are oppressed by the feudals or by the rich, and most of them struggle to live their lives peacefully despite the intolerable living conditions. I am pretty sure that if the Baloch nationalist and these disenfranchised Punjabis ever met and broke bread together, they will find quite a lot in common.

As my fellow blogger Beena Sarwar pointed out in response to my comments on her blog, no matter what the case, Taliban or BLA, the ultimate victims of their violence usually tend to be women. It is as if both in its religious and nationalist expression, the Pakistani militant movements find women to be the biggest threat and also the easiest victims. As a literary critic, I cannot help but see these acts as a sort of unconscious violence by men against women, because the figure of an educated, independent, or self-reliant woman must be the most haunting and emasculating image for these pseudo-men.

Balach Mari--Image borrowed from

As Kishwer Naheed aptly suggests in one of her poems about Taliban:

Keep courage, believe this
that those who were frightened even of girls
what pygmies they are
Announce in every city:
Keep courage, believe this
That those who were frightened even by girls
they are such pygmies.

(Translation by Mahwash Shoaib, Pakistaniaat)

What good is the martial posturing of the likes of Balach Mari and Hakeemullah Mehsud, both with guns bought in the black market or probably with the guns provided by their foreign masters, if their precious manhood is destabilized simply by the presence of women.

Hakeemullah Mehsud--Image borrowed from

Theses are not men but mere shadows of a deranged and emasculated manhood masquerading as manly, but is,  in its essence, a mask for their cowardice and unbridled cruelty.

It is our duty as scholars, writers, and human beings to condemn these murders no matter what the attenuating circumstances for their actions. There are always reasons for violence and we must pay attention to them, but there is no rationalizing narrative for violence against the weak, the powerless, and the oppressed. We should, therefore, stand against these cowards and condemn their cowardly acts repeatedly and without fail. That is the least we can do as moral human beings.

  16 comments for “Condemn the Politics of Hate and Murder

    April 30, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I agree with the first part of your article,and that is about the condemnation of killing of a lady is concerned.Having said that i must add that in circumstances like this when chaos suits most of the players of this tragic incident, it could be anyone. like in BB,s murder it is so easy to point our finger towards talibans or musharraf , but we forget that it could be anyone . same is the case here .we always make our judgement thru the beneficiery theory, but we forget the other theory , and that is who lost most.Pakistan as a state is losing its credibiltiy,so it should also be seen in this context as well.

      April 30, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      Dear Mubeen:
      Thank you for your comments. I agree it could be anybody, but in this case the BLA called in to take responsibility. That is why I have addressed it specifically to them. I am, as always, thankful for your frequent comments.

        April 30, 2010 at 11:36 pm

        dear raja,
        baitullah masood claimed that he didnt kill baynazir, we didnt take his words for it, do u think we are selective ?and some even went to the extent where they had to kill baitullah mehsud lest he spaeks the truth some some one has killed khalid khwaja , and has taken responsibility as well , but his wife and hameed gul dont agree . its a strange world and things are not that simple as they look.

          April 30, 2010 at 11:48 pm

          I don’t think I see the things simply and having served in the Pakistan army for fourteen years I also know the games played by the ISI and others and have often criticized them openly even while in service. I just want to declare in all my work that when it comes to speaking with the weak and powerless, I would rather criticize the powerful–militant and others–rather than finding easy rationalizations for their actions.
          I don’t know if the BLA killed Dr. Talib, but if they have claimed responsibility for it, then who am I to blame it on someone else. But don’t worry, I was trained to look at things in all their complexity and I always do that, but I am not going to rely on conspiracy theories to defend those who murder the innocents and this includes the acts of Pakistani and US forces.

            May 1, 2010 at 7:41 am

            maybe you have served fourteen years in army, musharraf served more than you it didnt make him any wiser.i said a few went to the extent of killing baitullah mehsud. wher does ISI comes in. americans killed him,and similarlythis time around it could be forces who want to destabalise could be americans it could be indians and anybody who has some stake in it .and i respect your training in the armed forces but has it ever happened to you that people having same training and experince differ in their judgement. in civilians it happens, and it happens most of the take it sportingly dear one can be wrong at times , all i was referring to , was , that you were being judgemental when you wrote.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    and i have even objection on the title of the article. u have been a judge when u wrote ,POLITICS OF HATE AND MURDER. it means in other words that it has been done by some political worker or party.i know that some times politicians are also involved in murders in pakistan and else where , but mostly they would go for negotiations.and i cant convince my self that it has been done by a political party be it BLA or any other party. they would certainly lose more than gain, anyway i am not convinced by your conclusions though i condemn it , poor lady was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

      April 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

      The title is based in postcolonial theory in which violence is a politcal act and constitutes a sort of politics. You should read Frantz Fanon.

    May 1, 2010 at 7:49 am

    terminologies are used to suit your acts , and even laws are made to suit your criminal acts,this is what is done on daily basis in isreal, that they kill muslims is self defence they take their land under differnet pretexts and when they fire a stupid home made rocket, the whole world and intellectuals come to protect the poor israelis from the atrocities of the palestinians.they never say a word about the root cause , but are always against the effevt of it . please dont give me those theories , i am old enough not to be impressed by them

    May 1, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Great. I agree that the context is important. I hope you read my other published work where I use a more complex approach but the purpose of this blog was to condemn this violence, no matter what the context. Yes, I am aware of what happens in Israel and elsewhere, but one blog cannot cover everything. But thank you for your comments. If you have some time, you should write something for us.

    May 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    my dear raja, thank you very much for accepting my point of view.these days this appraoch is scarce comodity.
    normally people leave little room for differnent point of views. now as for my writing for you is concerned , though i have enough time as a retired man , still i dont feel my self qualified enough for it . but sure will be commenting on what ever yu write , thanks dear

      May 2, 2010 at 12:07 am

      Dear Mubeen sahib:
      Thank you so much. Actually, now that I have thoroughly read your past comments, I agree with most of what you say: there is a lot of wisdom in your words. I apologize if I sounded a bit flip: this is a bit impersonal medium and one tends to get too defensive sometimes, which as a teacher I should have learned not to do. I also write a more academic and philosophical blog for my classes and you should take a look at that sometime:
      Masood Raja

    May 2, 2010 at 2:25 am

    my dear raja, please dont be so formal, why so late in our comments you have starteted using the word sahib?you dont have to apologise at all as you were being honest and i was trying to , though not sure who succeeded more in the effort. there is no absloute truth in this world and everything is relative . your have to put yourself in one,shoes to really know what he really wants to add.till now i have been really careful to speak the whole truth, sure , when we reach a certain level of understanding our conversation would be more open .
    since the disscusion is academic , may i ask you a question?
    that is ”what price are we ultimately going to pay for inserting the objective resolution in our constitution”
    awaiting your reply

      May 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      Dear Mubeen Ji:
      Thanks for your comments. As a humanist I have no interest in inserting the “Objective Resolutions” in the constitution. I think people can live a meaningful life with or without a state-mandated official religion. That is my brief answer to this, but over all I have, through a lifetime of reflection, resolved to be a secular humanist with all respect for all those who believe in one or the other religions to make life meaningful.

    May 2, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    my dear masood sahab,
    for my sake please read it again its a very tricky document, if politely described , and most of our problems , which we face these days are attributed to it .i am not talking about your being a humanist orother wise , but sure you would notice how well organised the forces ,who took over the ideaology of pakistan,from secular and liberal and made it a a muslim state.
    how can a state have a religion is the question.its humans who have any religion as they have the right to choose , not our further chit chat i would TRY to point out who should be blamed for what. it is not an easy job dear, afterall i live in pakistan and i have seen people killed for smaller reasons.
    take care

      May 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      Dear Mubeen Ji:
      Thank you. Yes, I will read it again and, maybe, write something about it at some point. Meanwhile, if you send me your views in an email ( I will edit them and post them under your name or as an anonymous post if you like.

    May 3, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    my dear raja shab
    sure i will write , right from the begining ,starting from 1847, but give me some time ,my views should be treated as a hyposhesis as they clash with the history we have read,but u will have to see the logic .give me some time dear , i will send it on your gmail address.

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