Of Chalgozas and Lollipops

By Mohammad Ali Ilahi

We all have heard about the lollipop, banana and candy analogies, which are often used to rationalize the use of burka and abaya for women. However, the official facebook page of Mufti Syed Adnan Kakakhel went a step further today and uploaded a picture showing 3 pine nuts (popularly known as Chalgozas in the sub-continent), of which two had turned black as a result of defective or no covering at all, whereas the third which had a proper covering had stayed white and edible.
Mufti Kakakhel, who is best known for his speech in front of Musharraf at a student convention where he represented Jamia Binoria, Karachi on the platform of JUI-F during the dictator’s regime, then argued that just like the covered Pine Nut stayed fresh, similarly it is important for women to cover themselves in a proper manner to keep themselves fresh, beautiful and pure.

The facebook post on the page which boasts over 400,000 likes was immediately filled with comments of Mash’Allah and Subhan’Allah by the many followers, who were impressed by the argument presented forward by the mufti and praised him for his astute analogy. The post soon reached a group of progressive individuals too who were horrified by such a doltish comparison. Subsequently, it was shared by a number of concerned citizens and progressive facebook pages as well who lamented the way Mullahs in Pakistan were free to spread ignorance in the name of religion. It was later taken down by Mufti Kakakhel’s page but by that time, the post had accumulated over 3,200 likes, with another thousand shares most of which were lauded the arguments that had been presented.

This leads us to a more pressing issue, which has a lot to do with how the masses are so easily mislead into following strange analogies that can sometimes turn ugly. As Voltaire aptly put it, “Those who can make you believe in absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”. In this case, the society backed with religious legitimacy has linked women so closely with honor that even the slightest violation from the existing norms can lead to horrid consequences. The murder of Qandeel Baloch, the frequent cases of acid attacks, chopping off of body parts by husbands, brother and fathers in domestic disputes along with an appalling number of honor killings (1100 in 2015) shows the dangerous trajectory the country is taking when it comes to women rights. This madness is confined not only to women, but has also been used to target minorities and human rights advocates in the past.

A recent example is of the Khadim Hussain Rizvi lead Sunni Tehrik. Khadim Hussain Rizvi is a notorious Mullah who has issued a fatwa of death (Wajib-ul-Qatal) against Shan Taseer, labelled Imran Khan as a blasphemer, and led the Anti-Ahmadiyya protests in the aftermath of the attack on their worship place in Chakwal. The fact that a leader of a popular religious organization is free to brainwash people, and to constantly encourage them to kill Pakistani citizens in cold blood using the honor of the Prophet as an excuse, shows how badly the state has failed to restrict the ideology of hatred and extremism in the society.

Previously, women and minorities were easy victims, but now the mainstream political parties are also being targeted. It would not be surprising, if in the near future, the all-powerful establishment too is asked to function in a particular manner that is deemed fit by the muftis and mullahs, or else be ready to face the brain washed chalgoza-analogy loving masses who have always proved to be effective scapegoats. Rather than covering up the lollipop, candy and the recently introduced Chilgoza, perhaps it would be more fitting to chain up the ravenous beasts whose hunger knows no bounds.