Tribe vs man
July 16th, 2020 at 5:43 pm
Tribe vs man

by Munazza Siddiqui;

So, what happens when the tribe tries to overwhelm the man? Does the tribe win or the man? Should the tribe win or the man?

I wish there were a sustainable answer; one that would make both society and man happy. But at any given time in history there are very few communities where the balance is able to play out for a while. Either the tribe becomes so strong that man starts to wither in its shadow or man overpowers the tribe and loses out on the sense of intimate belonging.

For the sake of human dignity I will call him Qaiys. He lies forgotten by his tribe in a Balochistan jail – his identity a mystery because he was deemed expendable by his people. Qaiys was caught wandering the barrenness of Balochistan. He is mentally handicapped, or as we like to say ‘intellectually disabled’ in our effort to soothe our collective conscience by being politically correct. Very oxymoron-ish of us.

Anyway, when Qaiys was caught by the area police, he was incoherent, had no papers on him and couldn’t identify himself. So, the police dutifully charged him under the Foreigners’ Act and sent the matter to the relevant Balochistan court. The court found him guilty of being a foreigner and sent him to jail. To give them credit, they did try to hand him over to Afghanistan but our neighbors refused to accept him saying he wasn’t an Afghan. How they knew that is a whole different story of tribe and man.

It was recently discovered that Qaiys is a resident of Karachi. A welfare trust released a video appealing for information on him, in order to secure his release from jail. Imagine the levels of betrayal he has faced. A man goes missing and no one cares enough to come forward. No one knows how he ended up wandering in Balochistan. The police that arrested him didn’t bother to make minimum inquiries and instead of getting him psychologically evaluated, they booked him – and that too under the Foreigner’s Act.

It doesn’t require much to ascertain if a man who’s incoherent and can’t remember anything about himself is mentally disabled. It’s not as if Qaiys is a sociopath, and even if he were that, I doubt our law enforcement is trained enough to identify such personality disorders.

All the way from police custody to jail, no one noticed him. Even the Balochistan court wasn’t inclined to do its due diligence by ordering a psych-eval. He had no identity. Without evidence of any sort, Qaiys was simply accepted as a foreigner and sent to jail. No one in the court house or in the jail noticed him. He ceased to exist for the tribe. He wasn’t even a number, because we get uncomfortable with attributing numbers to human beings. The tribe failed him and instead of acknowledging failure, branded him and others like him ‘collateral damage’, a term that instantly justifies our behavioral propensity to tower over men of lesser authority.

Part two of how the tribe let their man down begins now that Qaiys has been partially identified as belonging to Karachi. Even though it’s been confirmed that he is not a foreigner, Qaiys is not being released unless someone other than the police and court can confirm his name, locate his family and take up his case. The police and court that subjected this man to such indignity are still not liable for his release.

The law is all there, but what good is such law when the smallest minority on earth, the individual, carries upon his shoulders the burden to stand against his brother just to prove that he exists. What good is law when a mentally handicapped Qaiys is jailed simply because he has been abandoned? Is this what happens when the tribe tries to overwhelm the man?

The writer is an executive producer, Geo News and editor of Jang – The Economist annual edition. (The article was first appeared on The News on July 16, 2020)

 Munazza Siddiqui is an executive producer , Geo news and editor of Jang – The Economist annual edition