Pakistani men, honour and women


And, of course, killing


There could be two broad reasons for Pakistani men’s obsession with honour killings. One, it could be a cultural thing. The men, historically (and statistically) predominantly misogynistic, do not accept any manner of intellectual, social or, of course, sexual liberation in the women. But granting individual ‘murder rights’ is still unacceptable. Justifying these murders implies wide acceptance that the women’s alleged transgressions, in cases like Qandeel Baloch’s, are worse than killing. Thousands of ‘honour killers’ walk free despite having killed wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, etc, and even societal jirgas, at times, decree these murders.

Or two, it could be a sharia thing. For decades our society at large has been sliding towards the religious right; giving many things unnecessary religious colour and cover. But taking of life is clearly marked out in sharia law – be it any school of thought. Man can either kill in war – but only when mandated by the state. Or he can kill as punishment, but then too only when he is part of the legal machinery where the court orders capital punishment which is subsequently carried out. Under no circumstances can any man, on his own, take a life; be it for honour, revenge or justice.

Poor Qandeel was not in any way guilty of any transgression that deserved such savagery. Her one mistake was wearing her heart on her sleeve, sometimes very provocatively, in a very unforgiving and intolerant society. Some of the positions she took clearly offended a great part of society, but such issues call for debate, not murder. Sadly, if precedent is anything to go by, the state will stay limp as such episodes continue to mount; there will be no legislation, no constructive dialogue, no national narrative, and no serious effort to rationalise the societal discourse, just some noise followed by silence until there is more noise.