My family and close friends reprimand me quite often on highlighting negative issues with keen interest. Their humble opinion suggests looking for positives and propagating them through writing and speeches in order to initiate a progressive snowball effect. Today, I want to apologise to all of them with all my heart and soul for not coming up to their expectations, for I am a human with senses and emotions and who cannot blindfold herself from the brutalities our children are being subjected to. I cannot think of anything but the horrific ordeal these young girls had to suffer from. I cannot see anything except their innocent, lifeless faces. I cannot ponder over anything except the future of our children in this society which is, woefully, a common heritage of Pakistan and India.

Conviction of Imran Ali Naqshbandi in Zainab’s murder and rape case was eyed and ‘celebrated’ as a landmark achievement by higher authorities who hold apprehension of the culprit a much bigger success than averting such incidents from occurring. Zainab followed many and was followed by many. There is no doubt that this chain has not stopped and will soak its pearls in the blood of many more victims. Here in Pakistan, the authorities were at least vigilant enough to serve justice to the criminal; on the other side of the border, the situation is absolutely contrary.

Asifa Bano, the latest reported victim of sexual barbarity in India, is not the first one for whom public has taken to the streets but surely is yet another name under the banner of which people from all quarters have started to gather. Her hailing from the Gujjar Bakarwal nomadic Muslim community, that travels from Muslim-majority Kashmir valley to the Hindu-majority area of Kathua in Jammu in winters for grazing purposes, is being held as her only crime. For Zainab, it was her being a girl. Irrespective of the charge sheets prepared against the victims by their perpetrators and supporters of the latter, both the girls were sharers of the same fate – being punished for an organ they had without their willingness.

The question is: Who are their supporters? Those who have the seeds of lust sown in their minds, those who view rape as the most apt form of revenge, those who blindly believe in whatever their gurus or clerics tell them

It is not known up till now whether Sanji Ram and his fellows will be awarded a similar fate as Imran Ali Naqshbandi, but even as naïve a mind as mine (which actually started looking for positives in this filthy society) cannot overlook an extremely clicking similarity of both the girls’ violators – their using the religion card.

Religion is one such realm wherein raising eyebrows on an irrational ruling or objectionable conduct of a cleric is considered undisputed blasphemy. No matter what a particular religion has decreed, the masses never bother opening the religious book(s) and getting the gist from them. For them, religion is whatever their favourite priest says and does. Imran Ali sought refuge behind his beard and the title ‘Naqshbandi’ that suffixes his name and indisputably insists his regularity in organising milad gatherings (the sole fact owing to which he not only attended Zainab’s funeral but was also given a benefit of doubt in initial investigation), and Sanji Ram is trying to hide behind the doors of the Hindu temple of which he was the in-charge and where Asifa Bano was allegedly kept and gang-raped for days.

The question is: Who are their supporters? Those who have the seeds of lust sown in their minds, those who view rape as the most apt form of revenge, those who blindly believe in whatever their gurus or clerics tell them, those who have lost their ability to differentiate between right and wrong and, therefore, their ability to question their leaders. This hero-worshipping or ardent following is not new in the subcontinent and is not limited to religion. Politics is yet another realm where similar trends are observed, the most unfortunate part being the merger of the two as has been observed in the case of both the culprits who either belonged to or have backing of a political party. A great piece of news for Pakistan was complete aloofness of the political party to which Imran Ali reportedly belonged. The bad news for India that has exposed the country’s leaders and brought into limelight their faux politico-religious allegiances is the active participation of at least seven members of legislative assembly hailing from the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, a right-wing group headed by a BJP leader, in favour of the accused gang.

One faction is demanding to keep these incidents estranged from religion as involvement of religious sentiments always tends to corrupt the probing and its outcome. Nevertheless, it is the only tool which has been and still is employed by the culprits to conceal their heinous crimes and gain popular backing. In using the religion card they find their survival and by using the religion card they find heedless support of people who do so without gauging the truth against concocted facts.

The only wishful thinking that all sane minds currently harbour in every fissure is to seek justice for Zainab, Asifa and many other innocent children like them who knew something was not right at the time of their abductions but were rendered incapable of defending themselves, for lust and revenge is all what their culprits had in their eyes. One thing is decided: this has to end. And that, too, soon before both the countries become a collective home to violated girls and children.