Sahiwal – a horror already fading

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The clamour has subsided, the dead are buried, there are no street protests and the government, both federal and provincial, can rest easy in the knowledge that all is well and the murder of a family of innocents will be on nobody’s agenda by this time next week. Suspended police officers will spend a few days or weeks on the naughty step, perhaps have promotions delayed, but they will be back at work ere long.

The PM’s calls for accountability will fade as something else comes along to grasp his attention and various officials of his government who have remained largely zip-lipped on the whole sorry affair will continue to say little beyond confirming their own name and their inability to possibly comment.

It has all been so dreadfully embarrassing. Normally the state would get away with whatever tale it chose to concoct in such circumstances, no matter how ridiculous or blatantly dishonest. Because that is the way the state is. But hist comes a whisper from the side of the stage, there is dash-cam footage. What? Yes, the scene of the butchery was caught on camera and within minutes was uploaded to the internet where it, in the vernacular, promptly went viral. Oh dear. Oh dear indeed…so the rescue of kids in a kidnapping case is not going to hold up, huh? Nopes.

Having stiffed the rest of their family agents of the state carted the children off and abandoned them at a petrol station. Kids…how very inconvenient. Yup. Bet they won’t make that mistake again.

And there is more bad news. One of the surviving children, a boy, tells a story very different to that being rolled out by the state. Very different. And considering he was carrying a bullet himself and had no previous associations with any terrorist or extremist groups we may be fairly sure he was not making it up as he went along. His surviving sisters are pictured in a state of paralysed shock in an ethical breach that surpasses all understanding. But heigh-ho it’s just a story right? So poke that camera and mike wherever you like. No problem.

Meanwhile and back at the body-laden and bullet-riddled car members of the public were busy compiling their own impromptu file of evidence that was contrary to the fast-evolving official line. In the way of these things their images were uploaded to Twitter and WhatsApp and FaceBook and without a shot being fired the state was in crash-and-burn mode. Oh dear…we can’t have that can we?

No indeed we can’t so it was time to wheel out the rent-a-gobs with a handcrafted range of bloodied platitudes. Ah yes, all very sad, but they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Very sad. It is what we in the alternative facts business call ‘collateral damage’. It’s very regrettable of course but you don’t make omelets without breaking eggs and the man who was the driver well he really was a person of interest. Yes we were very interested in him. Very. A dodgy character and there was an investigation that he was a part of, as was the car that he was driving, that pointed to him being involved in terrorist activity. So that’s alright then.

But the others…the family that died…the orphaned children? What about them? Oh no worries. We’ll pick up the tab for their education for a couple of months then let them drop off the end of the pier to sink or swim. They are just minnows and the public, which has the attention span of the average goldfish in a globular bowl, will have moved on to discuss the scandalous price of sugar. Or whatever. Give it a month and nobody will remember it. It will all be under the carpet by teatime just you wait and see.

So what about the Prime Minister? Hasn’t he said that there was going to be accountability and that he was going to start reforming the Punjab police force just as soon as he gets back from Doha? What about that? Now just hold your horses sonny…the PM says many things and you vultures report them and turn on your little lights and tap away at your laptops and fulminate all over the social media but look here, the PM just needs a bit of management from time to time. A touch of fine-tuning. Volume adjustment that sort of thing. Fear not we’ll have it sorted soon enough.

‘We?’ ‘Us?’ ‘Sorted?’ – Yes…you know…us. We are the ‘us’, the ‘we’ that makes it all fine in the end. Sorting. It’s what we do. You know…clean things up, leave it all neat. Just look upon us as housekeepers, discreetly making sure you don’t slip on something nasty when you come through the door after work. That kind of thing. So here, take this Joint Investigation Team short report and toddle off and write something sensible will you? Nothing tooooo pushy but enough to sustain the illusion of a mostly-free media that keeps us…you know, us…on the side of the angels. Good fellow…oh…and mind how you drive will you the roads can be dangerous these days. Awful dangerous.