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The rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur, and ensuing events and conversations in its aftermath, provide yet another exemplary display of what all is broken in Pakistan’s political system.
Firstly, as the 12th such case reported over a couple of years in a two-kilometre radius, it tells us (again) just how badly compromised Punjab Police is as an institution. This was visible first through its indifferent attitude towards the investigation and then through a display of ingrained incompetence and brutality as it fired upon protesters.
Secondly, the fact that these events took place in Kasur, a city no more than half an hour away from the over-governed provincial capital, lays bare the hollow claims of political performance in the province. This wasn’t some peripheral region whose political economy and historical conditions make it difficult to run rules-based institutions; this is as heartland Punjab as it possibly gets. If this is the standard of governance that Shahbaz Sharif proclaims to champion, one shudders to imagine a not-too-distant (and wholly likely future) where the entire country is run the same way.
Third, the collective hopes and aspirations of justice for an entire population have once more been outsourced to (ephemeral) media attention and ‘notice-taking’ efforts by state elites of various shapes and sizes, from the chief minister, Punjab, to the army chief to the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court chief justices to the chairman, Senate. This begs the question of what happens when an equally gruesome incident does not, for some reason or the other, garner as much attention as this one.