The lynching of a young man in Quetta’s Hazara town is a horrifying indication of how mob fury and vigilante justice has become all too commonplace. The fact that a mob reportedly confronted and tortured three men in Aliabad in public until one of them succumbed to death is a tragic sign that violence and circumvention of the law are becoming diseases embedded in our society. What is perhaps the only consolation is that eleven men have been arrested for the lynching – so some accountability will be held.

The details of what sequence of events led to the lynching are not out yet. It should not matter however, that the lynching took place because of alleged harassment of Hazara women, as some reports are now indicating. Harassment of women is indeed a crime but prosecution should be left to the forces of law and order in the country. Vigilante justice is one of the most dangerous phenomena that unfortunately still exists and has resulted in some of the ugliest, heart-wrenching tragedies, like those of Mashal Khan. Their occurrences result in loss for everyone – the victims who are in most cases subjected to the most obscene of violence, the writ of the state, and even those who participated in the mob justice.

The strictest of action needs to be taken. This is murder and terror and should be treated as such. However, this case, where violence against alleged Pashtun men took place in a Hazara locality, should not be used as an excuse to marginalise any ethnicity or community. It is an unfortunate incident which is a symptom of the whole of our society’s tendencies towards mob justice, particularly where matters of “honour” or women are concerned. The case should be treated with care and sensitivity, and should not be allowed to aggravate into further violence.