We’re quick to disown people. Especially anyone outside the ‘Sunni Muslim straight man’ demographic that dominates most affairs in Pakistan. We’ve disowned two Nobel laureates largely because of their deviance from our preferred demographic.

Meanwhile, a subgroup within this demographic that we’ve found increasingly hard to disown are those that pursue radical Islamism as their ideology, and adopt jihadism as their way of life. Some had to murder 132 schoolchildren for them to be disowned.

The Sunni sub-sects can be irrelevant when it comes to popular impunity. However, radical Deobandis happen to have enjoyed the most sympathy, nay apologia. Even so, it was a Barelvi radical Islamist, reaffirmed as a terrorist by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, who highlighted the most alarming fault-line in the country.

On Monday February 29, the murderer of Salmaan Taseer, the then Governor of Punjab, was hanged till death in Adiala Jail. Around three hours after Mumtaz Qadri’s execution, during late hours of February 28 (Los Angeles time) Pakistani-Canadian director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won her second Oscar for the short documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.

#WeDisownSharmeen was the top social media trend on February 29. On a day the most illustrious terrorist in Pakistan was executed, petrol prices were slashed by almost 12% and Pakistan won an important cricket match at the Asia Cup, the most urgent message that the nation wanted to give out on social media was its denunciation of its only Oscar winning director.

To comprehend why something so masochistic is embraced at the macro level, one needs to understand an average Pakistani’s idea of honour – fittingly the theme for Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning documentary, and also the motive for Salmaan Taseer's murder.

The Pakistani society, being quintessentially patriarchal, blends the most misogynistic ideals of its culture and religion. Hence, just like any of its counterparts spanning over millennia, the Pakistani society’s idea of honour is embodied by the female anatomy, especially of those women who are related to a specific man, and is equally applicable to the esteem of Islam.

The natural corollary of earmarking a woman’s body as a man’s marked territorial ground is an obsession to ‘secure’ it by covering it up. Physically this entails covering the skin from other men’s line of sight and completely dedicating the body to the ‘owner’. At the personal level, it means giving up on individuality and living as a saleable commodity that’s worth specific men’s honour depending on when it changes hands.

As a result, a woman not covered according to the issued guidelines of modesty, or interacting with men not stakeholders in her honour, is deemed dishonourable. Similarly, unless she gets her owner’s and society’s approval, she can’t decide to change hands on her own, no matter how much abuse she gets.

Likewise, the average Pakistani man is asked to guard the 'honour' of Islam and the Prophet, by being ever-ready to resort to violence, should one of 'the others' try to 'tarnish it'.      

Sharmeen ‘dishonoured’ Pakistan by laying bare its scars at the global level. The ‘motherland’ was exposed to strangers who were not only able to view the skin, they saw the most vulnerable bits. 

Unlike a ‘true Pakistani woman’ Sharmeen did not hush up the violence against ‘men’s possessions’, because she didn’t know how to exist like one. Her fight is to help as many Pakistani women as possible experience what it is like to be an individual whose choices don’t impact families, clans, communities, nations, or anyone but her own self.

It is this long-held fear of Pakistan’s most privileged demographic, of seeing their own human properties being freed into individuals, which pushes them to disown liberated women. For, there is nothing more dishonourable than a woman holding a mirror that strips patriarchy off its invisibility cloak. That is precisely why the Women's Protection Bill is being met with so much resistance.

Understanding why many disown Sharmeen can go a long way in helping comprehend why many so proudly own Qadri. While Sharmeen unveiled the suffering of the vulnerable, Qadri wanted to shroud the nation in his endorsed brand of supremacism. Qadri’s cover epitomised autocratic uniformity, with sovereignty belonging to the most intolerant interpretation of Islam - a cover Taseer wasn't ready to tolerate, in his quest for a pluralistic Pakistan.

While Sharmeen vowed to give voice to the marginalised, Qadri vied to silence dissent. While Sharmeen envisioned a tolerant Pakistan where people can overcome their fears to express their mind, Qadri desired to instill perpetual fear in the hearts of everyone deviating from his ideology. While Sharmeen dishonoured Pakistan by trying to protect the victims of violent patriarchy, Qadri honoured the country by punishing the man who challenged a law that has been the greatest aide of crimes committed for radical Islam.

Both have collectively unraveled the menace of 'honour' and 'blasphemy' - two perilous sides of the same coin that endorses violence for abstract crimes, to safeguard 'offended' sentiments.

In the two days since Qadri was hanged, and Sharmeen awarded, a man shot his teenage daughter in Lahore over ‘honour’, another killed his wife in Jhang, yet another murdered his two sisters in Sahiwal, all the while over 100,000 Pakistanis attended Qadri’s funeral.

Even so, it would be simplistic to divide Pakistan in a Sharmeen-Qadri binary. One would, for instance, find a significant percentage of people expressing why Qadri shouldn’t have taken law into his hands, albeit for an ‘understandable’ cause, while wholeheartedly condemning Sharmeen for choosing to highlight an ‘internal’ problem instead of a West-inflicted one. Similarly, one would find others who unapologetically label Qadri as a terrorist, but still are upset over a Pakistani (female) director garnering acclaim for unearthing a ‘negative image’ of the country.

This group of people, lying smack on top of the aforementioned fault-line, more often than not, defines its allegiance as polar opposite to the West. For them, underscoring Pakistan or the Muslim world’s problems is a ‘western agenda’, and so anyone mustering acclaim for doing so in the West, by default, becomes their accomplice.

Unless we recognise universal human rights as a global agenda, and not a Western tool of defamation, we would never see ourselves as global citizens championing universal equality. And it is this aforementioned group that needs to sift valid critique of the West from sweeping animosity, to help shape a forward-looking narrative in Pakistan and the Muslim world.

Most crucially, amidst all manifestations of owning Qadri and disowning Sharmeen, it’s promising to see the judiciary and the government making, and owning, decisions for a progressive Pakistan. By punishing Mumtaz Qadri – reservations for capital punishment notwithstanding – and vowing to follow Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s quest for elimination of the called honour killings, the Nawaz Sharif-led government is taking tough decisions. If they want the National Action Plan to be taken seriously, after all the recent lapses, they would have to keep on embracing the harder choices.