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Of Bruised Egos Leading To Mob Violence

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Awais Babar writes about the attack on Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and argues that the rioting lawyers were taken over by their egos. The preservation of a ‘false’ ego always results in irreversible situations.

On November 24, a lawyer named Azeem Sindhu had his mother admitted to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).  While his mother was being treated, lawyers accused the PIC doctors of negligence. Thereafter, a scuffle broke out between a group of lawyers and doctors in the hospital resulting in both parties registering cases against each other. A lot more followed between them and ended really badly.

I am the only lawyer in my big family of too many uncles and aunts, and countless cousins. I decided to become a lawyer when I was in Class 7th. While my friends in Cadet College were inspired to become doctors, engineers, army men- I had other inspirations; though no one including my family ever encouraged me to become a lawyer. Rather I was discouraged, rendered impracticable and the reason for that was exactly what happened at PIC when a mob of men in black – women too – stormed the hospital.

It is the image that lawyers have, not a good one that my whole family would try to get me out of becoming one. A bank would usually be reluctant to lease a car to customer who happens to be a lawyer. Likewise, landlords do not even open the door to have a prospective paying guest who happens to be a lawyer to even look around his property, fearing that he will not pay the rent and get away with it.

Needless to say, the law is bound to be same for all and the culprits must be punished. Readers that I may have had since I have started writing would acknowledge that I am a strong proponent of rule of law.

However, I have a problem with the moral attack on both the lawyers and doctors when the society expects them to be sophisticated owing to the honour inherent in their jobs. We expect doctors to behave themselves since their job is humane and requires humanity for the job to be done in the most effective manner.

Likewise, we expect lawyers to be more law abiding than other citizens as they are not only well aware of the law and its essence but also because they are the protectors of it. It is their job to protect the law from their perspective, regardless of who the client is. As truer these perspectives may be, they are not for a society like ours which is uneven in every possible way one can imagine.

In my opinion, this tagging and ranking of morality is absurd and manifestly unfounded. This is exactly what we complain to the world when they identify the word ‘terrorist’ with only those culprits who have a Muslim background, however, they call the rest ‘insane’.

What is the root of all evils? Have we ever questioned ourselves beyond the peripheral analyses we keep doing everyday? Is it not ‘thought’? Everything, good or bad, starts with a thought, does it not? How does the thought of becoming a pilot get into a child’s head? Obviously when he sees a plane in the sky, without seeing it there will be no such thought. Similarly, thought has a bad sight too, one negative thought gives rise to a number of negative thoughts and ultimately something unpleasant happens.

Most of the murders are not premeditated, however, the heat of the moment creates a bad air comprised of melancholy and ego and the shot gets fired. I know of a man who once had an argument with a friend over the most trivial of issues and unwantedly ended up slapping the guy, only to find out that he just killed his friend.

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He obviously had no intention of killing the man and regrets his act to this day. But something ‘took over’ him and once that something takes over the man is on auto-pilot. And that something is ‘thought’; the root of all evils. Thought makes a healthy man turn into a terrorist, a happy family into a sad one, thought turns love into hate, hate into anger and anger into catastrophes.

This is why I believe all our solutions to various problems are not realizable.

For instance, military courts may eliminate some terrorists but not the thought of terrorism, the thought of glory in the head of the terrorist. Similarly, condemning every incident from a moral standpoint will not yield positive results to make an overall better society. This behaviour is a kind of moral superiority, ‘at least I am better than the lawyers’-everyone has been saying that since the unfortunate incident.

We often double blame the men with beard and expect them to be better Muslims than the ones who shave. By the same token, we double blame the women who wear ‘burqas’; “Look at her, she pretended to be a saint, she has brought shame to our religion by pretending to be a religious woman”.

A mob, terrorist, criminal, fraudster, and vice versa has no religion. They may be doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers but all those have the same mind as the rest of us, same feelings as the rest of us, same aspirations as us. When we get angry, do we ever remember who we really are? We just get taken over and later feel so regretful that we apologise to the people whom we may have hurt from our poisonous words. That entity that takes over the man is called with different names such as ‘ego’ and ‘self’ or ‘the little me’.

The doctor who was challenging the lawyers from his poetic speech and an artistic delivery was speaking out of a hurt ‘little me’, in effect representing his peers. Then the lawyers’ ‘little me’ got hurt and they decided to teach their challengers a lesson. Now while some of them are in jail, and many are being condemned, rightly so, they must be saying to themselves, ‘Was it really worth it’? Obviously the answer is ‘no’. The fact remains that these lawyers were taken over by their egos. The preservation of a ‘false’ ego always results in irreversible situations just as one at hand.

I don’t mean to absolve anyone of their acts, but want to offer a solution based on a different vantage point. The real truth is that everyone is a gangster in Pakistan. There is no law, the police does not even have enough funds for their fuel, no upgraded training synonymous to the ones in military. And due to this, the society thinks that the solution is to just take things into one’s own hands.

The state was nowhere to be seen on the awful day. It appears that the government is happy despite its failure to hamper the lawyers from getting to the PIC in the first place. They are happy because no one seems to be talking about the government and its responsibilities.

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The police claims that they were assured by the black suits that they shall peacefully protest outside the hospital and it was after that assurance that they rather facilitated their rally let alone stopping it.

This is so synonymous to a situation where a terrorist may be allowed to enter a building; imagine the police saying later that ‘the terrorist promised that he will not blow up, he is only going to get a cup of tea from the cafeteria’.

The fact is that the police is afraid. Nobody stands behind them if things go wrong. In fact, the first thing that happens is that they are suspended; then ridiculed, morally attacked over by the media and not to mention the end to their careers and the embarrassments their families must face. To avoid all this, they just play the safe side and that is exactly what they did on the day.

In this country, no entity wants problems solved, however, each wants to look good nonetheless. The establishment wants to be looked at in the highest of honour, the government in order to make itself look good suspends or transfers government officials or is busy selling some abstract ideas, the NAB in order to look good would register an extra reference against an extra person with no real intent of prosecution; all in order to look good.

Therefore, to say that the lawyers and doctors have brought shame to their professions is only one layer of the problem. A deeper layer is the absence of state. Pakistan needs to become a state first from within and then work on projecting it outwardly. In real sense, we are the most indifferent set of people on earth. There is not a day that goes by when one could say that it was a day without despondency. All we do is condemn, grieve and then later thank God that ‘this did not happen to us’. It might, we just don’t feel that way until it does.

The bitter truth is that we still do not consider ourselves to be under one flag. We are scattered along various lines: Muslim and non-Muslim, doctors and lawyers, politicians and establishment, Taliban and the religious parties, each pushing its own agenda. Pakistan for us has become just a name. In order to somehow keep ourselves in the loop, we have resorted to patriotic songs, movies and plays, some glory stories from the past. We are a nuclear power with empty stomachs.

What happened at the PIC is contemptible and atrocious but let us for once start analyse it from the scratch. A criminal is a criminal, all the things become insignificant once the virus takes root in the mind of a culprit; be it an individual or a mob. In order to make a better society, we need to rethink our ideas and become equal citizens of Pakistan in every way; morally, financially and most importantly with respect to dignity.

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