CITY NOTES

An Indian Muslim was recently murdered by a mob for eating beef. In a secular country, it shouldn’t matter what people eat, but eating beef apparently doesn’t count. I remember seeing in Communist-ruled Calcutta, now Kolkata, piglets roaming the streets of a katchi abadi. But cows are sacred. ‘Sacred cow’ is a particular contribution of the Hindu religion to the English language.

The military does not like the term being applied to it, not so much because they are not sacred, as because they don’t like being called cows. I mean, cows don’t go around making threatening phone calls, as General Musharraf was said to have made to Benazir Bhutto during a phone call which lobbyist Mark Siegal said took place, when he testified in the Benazir murder case. General Musharraf ‘s having done so was made more likely by his being a rough’n’tough commando, who are eminently suited to give people shut-up calls. General Musharraf defended himself, saying that Asif Zardari, who Siegel said was present, did not once take action during the five years of his Presidency. Only a cow (or rather bull?) would not use the Presidency to wreak vengeance on anyone threatening his spouse, was the implication.

Also, cows do not get invited to the Royal United Services Institute, as COAS Gen Raheel Sharif was. However, the Indians seem as scared of our sacred cow as anything. Mian Nawaz Sharif’s peace offer to India may well have been rejected by it, and an exchange of waves may have been all that happened between him and Modi, but we should be aware that both speech and wave were approved by our sacred cows. They were busy taking revenge from the Muslim who slaughtered their Mother Cow. A charge his mother in turn denied. She said she had never seen beef in her life. Yeah, sounds like someone who also smuggled vegetable ghee into the house in a plain paperbag.

It seems that in Modi’s India, extremism is eating beef. That means we have to be careful about accepting India’s offer for peace by ending extremism. They’ll make us stop eating beef. The Indian police are properly confused. Are they supposed to stop beef-eating or cattle-rustling? The cattle rustling tribes of Punjab would argue that taking (not stealing) objects of worship cannot be accounted theft. If that was true, the police would find itself deprived of one of the most useful charges it has.

Still, extremism is also a useful tool these days. Extremists have captured Kunduz, the first provincial headquarters to fall in Afghanistan since it was invaded---sorry, liberated--- by the USA. The first thing they did was let all the prisoners out of jail. The government is restoring control by chasing out the extremists. But no mention of the prisoners. The government would probably pay more attention to the problem if it could tear itself away from bombing the local hospital

The prisoners will probably join some of the Pakistanis who are missing from Mina, and will turn up at the Hungarian border, claiming to be Syrian refugees. Among the two most poignant tragedies for the entire Muslim world are Mina and Syria. And Pakistanis apparently are trying to exploit this to get into the European Union.

And just as the US bombing is not all about taking out hospitals, the Modi government is not all about killing beef-eating Muslims. The Modi government is also about killing witches, a lot in tribal villages in Jharkhand. But it isn’t just Jharkhand. There were around 160 murders linked to witchcraft recorded in 2014 across 13 Indian states. About 2,300 people, mostly women, have been killed in such attacks since 2000. Jharkhand gained prominence after five women were killed recently by a mob. So mobs in India have a busy time, and the jackpot will be a suspected witch thought to use beef-eating in her rituals. That’s appropriate, since it seems that apart from making children sick, the witches mostly make cattle sick.

Magic had nothing to do with the passing of Mr Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, who was Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court before his elevation to the Supreme Court, from where he retired, but who is still best remembered as the eponym of Allama Iqbal’s Javed Namah. He was a distinguished interpreter of Iqbal in his own right but was also a lawyer. In fact, not only was he a Chief Justice himself, but was married to a lawyer, who was appointed to the Lahore High Court by the first Benazir government. Both his sons went into the law, and one of them joined the Tehrik Insaf, taking into the third generation the political tradition that started with the Allama, whose Allahabad Address was as President of the All-India Muslim League of 1932. The Justice himself had contested the 1970 election from a Lahore constituency on a PML ticket. He was a more distinguished son of Sialkot, where he was born in 1924, than Kh Asif. Javed Iqbal tried to spread light in the country where Kh Asif presides over loadshedding.