Zainab’s murder and our collective failure

When you don’t punish the criminals, the society becomes lawless, a jungle where vultures savage innocent children like Zainab

The kidnap, abuse and brutal murder of the innocent little girl Zainab from district Kasur, once more, manifests the state failure to protect its vulnerable groups especially the children.

The ill-fated Zainab, 7, was abducted from Road Kot area of Kasur city on last Thursday as she went out for tuition. After being molested, she was killed and her body dumped in a trash heap by the heinous murderer apparently spotted in the CCTV footage with the girl.

This was not an isolated event and the Kasur city has been notorious for paedophilia in the recent past. Over the past one year, at least 11 innocent girls have been molested and killed within a two kilometre radius of the city which points to the involvement of the same individual or gang in these horrific incidents. The question is that what police have been doing as they failed to book even a single brutal murderer.

Furious over the inaction of police, when residents protested and allegedly attempted to attack District Commissioner (DC) office, instead of peacefully dispersing the crowd, the police opened straight fire at the protesters, killing two. This indicates the mindset of our police as it treat citizenry like foreign subjects.

The poor parents of the deceased girl also accused police of not cooperating with them, demanded justice and asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) and the army chief to intervene. The Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice, Punjab CM, Senate, chief justice of Pakistan and the army chief have taken notice of the case. But the authorities taking notices does not bring back the lost confidence of citizenry in state institutions.

The fast eroding confidence of people in the state institutions can clearly be seen from spontaneous protests of the Kasur residents and the rage and anger shown by the nation at large over social media. Could a state sustain without the confidence of its people in its institutions?

It’s the state’s responsibility to protect life, honour and property of its citizenry and preserve their basic human rights. However, in Pakistan, the state remains absent.

If people’s grievances went unaddressed and justice not provided to them, one day masses could took to the streets and held accountable all concerned in a way many might never wish

All vulnerable groups; women and children, the minorities in particular and the masses in general have been left to the mercy of murderer and thugs. In the same city Kasur, a Christian couple was burnt alive and the state remained a silent spectator. Every now and then, the Hazara and Shia Muslims, the Christians and the Ahmadis become victim to religious persecution but the state remains absent.

For how long the people at the helm will fool us by taking cosmetic measures and lip service? When will Pakistan become a mother-like welfare state where no one is subject to any kind of persecution?

In the same city, Kasur, some two years ago, around 300 children were raped and videotaped. May I ask the state how many of the culprits were punished? Only two have been sentenced to life imprisonment while many of them acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

When you don’t punish the criminals, the society becomes lawless, a jungle where vulture savage innocent children like Zainab.

The flawed criminal justice system, inefficient prosecution system, the corrupt police, the so-called people’s representatives are busy in securing petty political interests. The nation that wakes up momentarily only when an innocent child like Zainab is molested, strangled and dumped in a trash heap are responsible for the miseries and the ill-fate of our children.

The brutal killing of Zainab exposes the moral bankruptcy of our ‘pious’ society. It’s a wake up call to rejuvenate the dying mortality and ethics of our society. It shows the sexually frustrated vultures are roaming free and the state is busy only protecting the elite of this country while masses have been left to the mercy of wolves and vultures.

The people’s rag and overwhelming condemnation of the savage murder of Zainab should be a wake up call to all at the helm. If people’s grievances went unaddressed and justice not provided to them, one day masses could took to the streets and held accountable all concerned in a way many might never wish.

Knee-jerk reactions like suspending a few police officers or transferring them here and there won’t resolve actual issue of child abuse. If the prosecution and justice systems fail to book a single culprit out of hundreds of such unfortunate incidents, then such systems need immediate and serious overhauling.

Many countries have included content to their education syllabus regarding child protection but we shy away from a very serious issue. We need to educate our children how to react in any untoward situation.

The social taboo to report a child abuse case is the other major reason why this heinous crime is on the rise in the society. Instead of getting support from the society, the victim and the family is judged, preventing any legal action against the culprit. Delay in the medical examination leads to lose of valuable evidence that results into the acquittal of the criminal from the courts.

Our society lacks awareness on child protection and exposes children to strangers, distant acquaintances the trustworthy relations which result in child abuse. A child is the most precious asset for its parents, protecting it should be the first and the foremost responsibility of them.

The laws are already in place to protect children, only effective prosecution and speedy justice with exemplary punishments to paedophiles could prevent such heartbreaking incidents of child abuse and murder.

The writer is a journalist and analyst based in Islamabad. He tweets at @kashifaliraza and can be reached at

Published in Daily Times, January 12th 2018.