aj sabho ‘qaido’ ban gaye, husn ishq de chor aj kithon liaaiye labbh ke waaris shah ik hor —Amrita Pritam Another incident of crass brutality has been brought to the limelight in Pakistan after our collective conscience got some respite having Kasur murderer sent to gallows. But this time, our collective conscience may not get the same quick relief as the perpetrators are state functionaries who have adopted an unwritten policy of using police encounters and torture as means of speedy justice. Incapable of bringing long term and result-oriented reforms to administrative and judicial realms, “torture” has unfortunately become an accepted norm within our state institutions. The society and people refuse to stay behind in using different sorts of torture to coerce their ideas and belief systems. The present wave of torture (thanks to social and electronic media) is a more visible form of the already existing phenomena and is no different to that of Middle Ages both in scale and scope. The worrying part is that European and other nations have long improved their record with an effort spanning over centuries and we haven’t yet started our journey nor do we feel the need to. Crime and punishment have always existed together like a two way road ever since human beings started living in communities and societies. The primitive natural law of survival evolved into a coded law with the development of civilizations. The principle of an eye for an eye or “Lex Talionis” was promulgated by Hammurabi around 2,000 years BC which was adopted by many religions and civilizations with some modifications including Jews, Muslims, Greeks and Romans. Public displays of stoning, whipping and crucifixion were used to punish criminals and religious heretics. The World Economic Forum reported that as many as 5,000 women a year are still being killed on excuses of “honor” while several thousand suffer acid attacks, domestic violence and sexual abuse According to Rhys Moses of Augustana College in the US, this torture did not enter into European mindset until the time of Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes who “tortured numerous Jews in an attempt to make them submit to Roman authority”. This started an era of Roman savagery which was second to none in its public appeal and widespread usage. The first Roman gladiatorial contest started in 264 BC as a match of man against man. Eventually, this turned into a full slaughter.” The victims were usually religious heretics as “the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country”, notes Gibbon in his fabled “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. Rhys Moses describes further that during the medieval times, “torture was used mainly as a weapon of private citizens and eventually the State.” It was later “adopted by rulers that realized that their citizens respected such a display of force.” During 16th and 17th century, “torture was used for purging of supposed witches and sorcerers.” The atrocities in World War II concentration camps and later during 1995 war in Balkans are recent examples of torture in Europe. In the aftermath of 9/11, the world entered into the era of “scientific torture”. The American CIA used the infamous water boarding, hypothermia, stress positions, snarling dogs and forced nudity as prime means of investigation in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghuraib and Bagram detention camps. It seems that the present day Pakistani state and society have infested almost all forms of ignorance and tyranny committed anywhere in the world from Roman Times to the present era. Look at few examples, the politically motivated target shootings killed 1,510 people in Karachi alone while terror and suicide attacks consumed another 1,438 lives across the country during 2010. Though the country has improved its record on urban violence in cities like Karachi in the last few years, the other indicators are enough to shame those who are perched on the top seats. The country still stands at 139th position among 180 countries, which were profiled to develop the latest index on journalists’ safety by “Reporters without Borders”. Pakistan is the second worst country in the world to live in a woman, ranking 148 out of 149 countries as per ‘Global Gender Gap Index 2018’ report. The World Economic Forum reported that as many as 5,000 women a year are still being killed on excuses of “honor” while several thousand suffer acid throwing, domestic violence and sexual abuse. Religious persecution of Christians and their Muslim sympathizers on real or perceived charges of blasphemy continue to escalate, rendering the state of Pakistan pawn in the hands of few bigots and their numerous supporters. The countrywide riots after Supreme Court’s verdict on Assia Bibi case have all but compelled civil society to retreat. The above stats show signs of a terminal illness infecting the Pakistani state and society. It seems that we are heading towards a collective suicide. The life saving injection is in the hands of the government of Pakistan but the long term cure lies with none other than the civil society and people of Pakistan themselves. “To bring the nation out of Fatalism, Fanaticism and Fascism (3Fs), a long and arduous struggle, which may turn bloody at times, is needed just as the West came out of dark ages through the efforts of countless adventurers, reformers, scientists, men of letters and revolutionaries”, says Hyder Shar, a Karachi based lawyer and Human Rights activist. The civil society will have to work with the state for the development and implementation of a new social contract based on logic and rule of law among the masses. The educationists and media may be the vanguards. The writer is a freelance contributor Published in Daily Times, February 2nd 2019.