Love is not blind anymore; it is hatred now; sometimes its sectarian and religious, sometimes it is just against any iconoclast without much rationale behind it.

The pity is that it never remains just an emotion. It becomes so strong that it forces people to act vigorously, viciously and brutally. At times it seems like, under this emotion, people are driven by some supernatural power, akin to a puppeteer who holds the strings to control the movements of the body, head, limbs, even the tongue of the subjects meticulously, while the subjects show no sign of conscience of their own.

This very spirited emotion has made us witness the torching of hundreds of houses and churches in Joseph Colony by 3,000 people in 2013. We saw the death of three little girls and their grandmother, who were burnt to death by the mob of several hundred people in central Pakistan. We were also bystander when a young Christian couple in the Punjab village of Kot Radha Kishan was publicly lynched and thrown into the furnace of the brick kiln where they used to work. The list continues and temporarily stops at the latest killing of Mashal Khan, a youth who was beaten up to death by a charged mob.

It often starts off as a dozen angry people, then tens more, and finally becomes an aggressive mob comprising hundreds of mercurial individuals in less than an hour. Now the situation is that such aggressive mobs burn people alive in front of the police and we see few arrests and fewer convictions.

I wonder what this magic charm is about. Bearing in mind the latest lynching of Mashal Khan that once again called on our very short spam attention to rethink, focus and question this madness. I wonder what this enticement is after all. Why do ordinary people lynch? The majority of people, men and women alike, who partake in mob violence incidents, attend, defend, or at least accept lynching hold no criminal record at all. Why do these ‘ordinary’ citizens support a culture of extralegal violence that could and does include the killing and mutilation of human beings? What motivates them to be what they otherwise would never choose to be? After all these people don’t get any monetary reward, there is no phony honour involved as claimed in honour killing, and there is no light of publicity for them.

There always has been a debate over the factors that intricate mob violence. In the literary history, the most widespread narrative suggests that the lack of economic development is one of the major contributing factors to the incidents of civil strife. It cannot be negated as the resentment of people against government’s policies contributes to the intensity of emotions against power and ‘might’ lead to vigilantism. ‘Horizontal Inequalities’ such as economic, political and social inequalities, as Frances Stewart (professor of development economics at the University of Oxford), explains, lie at the heart of most violent conflicts across the developing world.

Another narrative driven by some educationist, peaked in the recent decades, links mob violence with the lack of education and extreme sensitivity towards religion. We know that in our society there is a greater acceptance of lynching mobs (which is beyond every human logic on earth ever existed), especially in cases where religion is drawn in. There is a perplexed, black and white approach towards faith. Any little word, gesture or action becomes a trigger for a befitting response to the sentiments of Muslims. In Pakistan, we saw highly educated people honouring Mumtaz Qadri and killing Mashal Khan. Maybe, the education in question doesn’t fit here and is therefore dismissed in the case study of Pakistan at least.

Interestingly, there are other academic sources which gainsay the above narratives that lack of education, economics, and poverty has any role to play in increasing the propensity to participate in violence.

‘Group fallacy’ is an interesting viewpoint presented by an American psychologist, Floyd H Allport. This fallacy consists in substituting the crowd of people for the individual as a principle of explanation. According to him, there is no such thing as a group mind or the mob environment; in fact, mob is just a bunch of like-minded people who act no differently than they would otherwise. Though crowd provides them an opportunity to express their selves in an intensified manner, it does not change what one covets and strive for.

Thus, eventually, it all lies in the belief system, which if challenged, supersedes every bit of education, upbringing, and civil sense ever attained. This is the perplexity of our amorphous dilemma. The decade of battling with terrorism has not made us resilient, as we claim proudly; they have made us violent, mawkish towards religion and merciless.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its 2013 report said Pakistan was ‘on the verge’ of becoming an undemocratic society where violence is the accepted form of communication. Involvement of religion by any means exacerbates the problem as the belief system of our nation is screwed, infected and deep rooted.

I now sometimes doubt, is there naturally something in religion that makes people Summun Bukmun Umyun (Deaf Dumb Blind) to logic? How come a moulvi who never could convince people to pray five times a day or be honest in their business dealings can galvanise people to be violent and throw stones till nothing is left?

What makes it even worse is that after these egregious incidents, the ingenuous individuals continue their lives normally, without getting any emotional scar or guilt on their soul.

Perhaps it has become the nature of Pakistanis that they become over excited to see opportunities, whether it’s an opportunity to have Jannah or an opportunity to get free petrol from the oil tanker turned upside down on a site.

It also cannot be negated that such as multifaceted behavioral issues mostly have some obvious connections with the lack of education and justice, understanding and comprehending religion, social frustration, political instability and economic conditions. And every factor needs to be taken seriously and worked on to preclude the prevailing mob culture.

Who knows one-day hatred starts peeping through the lens of logic and the next day the human life isn’t worth more than a litre of petrol.