Little Zainab has needlessly lost her life at the hands of maniac. This is not the first incident of its kind. Thousands of innocent women and children in Pakistan have died just as needlessly. Some, by lusting men. Others, because of neglect and greed. Most have been killed because of because of hubris of power and privilege of indulgence. In all these incidents, there are a few factors which are easily identifiable. Among them are rank criminality, complete absence of fear of law, utterly ineffective popular resistance and finally a dreadful collapse of our society’s binding cross weave where social values do not matter anymore. The other day a son clubbed his mother to death for ‘honour’ and incinerated her body in her own car. Other gruesome incidents which have been in the news recently include a woman slitting the throat of her sister in Karachi, a mother poisoning her kids to marry her paramour, a father slaughtered his entire family to wed another woman and a son emptying the magazine of a gun into his father and brother so he could inherit his real estate. All this happens routinely and nobody is moved beyond a temporary sense of indignation. You might disagree, which you may, but tell me why has there been no action against an incident which took place years ago when 250 workers were burnt alive in a factory in Karachi through deliberate arson by ransom seeking thugs? This case is still languishing in the courts. Why did no one stop blood thirsty people in a village in Kasur from burning a Christian couple in a brick kiln on suspicion of blasphemy and why has nobody been held accountable by the law for the heinous crime? Why is Mumtaz Qadri — a cold blooded killer iconised in our society like a saint? When you steal from the national treasury, crush a child under the wheels of your racing Land Cruiser and never show remorse or even look back, when a party worker dies from falling in a ditch before your eyes in a dharna and you do nothing to save him and when fourteen of your followers are gunned down, including a pregnant woman and you play politics or reward the firing squad; Zainabs will be murdered again and again. There was nothing more damning and ominous than Zainab’s father expressing faith in the CJ’s personal attention and COAS’s express instructions to nab the killer. It shows that the common man has no faith in the state Shahrukh Jatoi ,a pampered brat from a privileged family, gunned down young Shahzeb Khanzada just because he was trying to protect his sister from the upstart’s lusty mischief. He lived in jail like a royal guest and was released by the Sindh High Court Scott-free after a dubious deal with the dead boy’s parents. The privilege of power has become awfully blatant in our country where money and influence can buy anything. Why then, should people remain sane under duress and why should their reaction to an involuntary provocation like a biker slipping and hitting a bystander be non violent? In this blinding sandstorm of power, steep privilege and bland lawlessness, what assures an ordinary citizen that the state will protect him? Absolutely nothing. What then prevents the powerless to seek protection from crime gangs, sectarian militants or the village strongman. There was nothing more damning and ominous than Zainab’s father expressing faith in the CJ’s personal attention and COAS’s express instructions to nab the killer. It shows that the common man has no faith in the state. Do not prosecute unprotected ordinary citizens but pity them for having been abandoned by the state to the wolves in the street. Have you ever visited the part of a prison where influential criminals and accused from filthy rich families are detained? You will be amazed to see five star facilities available to them. Jails have become luxury rest houses where interns literally party protected by the jail wardens as personal guards. They are not penitentiaries which cause introspection among convicts or deter those about to follow suit outside. There is no fear of being jailed, only anticipation of protective custody. Where does one go from here for redress if wronged? Possibly to the revolting dens of the mafia dons, trigger happy gangsters or throat slitting militants? They say there is a ferocious gangster in Rawalpindi who is notorious for his impulsiveness and those who disobey are rumoured to have been fed to his pet lions. Thus their ruthless coercive ability ensures instant and mostly total obedience while the state fidgets and the law dither. See where have we led to and abandoned the mass of our people; there could hardly be a more hideous betrayal of the trust . Fact of the matter is that we have discarded humanity as a cumbersome load long ago and shed character and fear of God as worthless practices. Lust, lechery, greed, abject peonage and cowardice have become our social currency. Rule of law, decency, fair play and dignity in self restraint have been consigned to nostalgia and academic discourse in the seminar rooms. Despite our hem and haw and plenty of hot air, Zainabs will continue to be killed and tossed over garbage dumps. When law is diluted in a society, criminality thickens. And when conscience is choked humanity dies. The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, January 16th 2018.