Pakistani society has taken vigilantism to epic proportions. As if cases under blasphemy ordinance against people for taking off milad posters and offering water were not enough we now have a brand new blasphemy case against a 17 year old high school student for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in three of his answer sheets – Urdu, Islamiat and Physics – in his intermediate exams.
Unlike the above mentioned cases which were filed in rural Punjab by semi literate maulanas, this one was filed in Karachi by the controller of examinations of the Intermediate Board of Education, Karachi. The 17 year old is now in juvenile prison. He has pleaded guilty and appealed to the judicial magistrate for pardon. He has apologized and promised that he would never commit ‘such a sin’ again.
For starters, this kid is obviously troubled. He is a teenager dealing with existentialist anguish which is quite common in young people who think. What else would explain his supposedly blasphemous answers in a Physics paper! If anything, this kid needs to be listened and if possible counseled by professionals, not thrown in jail with common criminals.
Secondly, if I am not mistaken, a teacher is only supposed to grade the paper. Passing judgment on the contents of the paper and moral policing has never been part of an instructor’s duties. In fact they cannot even fail the students or take actions against them if what the students have written is against their religious or moral ideology. They most certainly have no right to instigate criminal action against an underage kid on the basis of his answer sheet.
In addition, an answer sheet is a private document and the controller of exams, Professor Agha Akbar had no right to make it public or use it as evidence against the boy in this case. If anyone needs a quick lesson in Ethics 101, it is the professor sahib, not the high school kid. The Intermediate Board is using the blasphemy law to coerce a student to form opinions as deemed fit by the institution.
This incident also gives a clear message to other conflicting souls; you stay quiet and suffer in silence instead of debating the questions that trouble you. It also indicates that young people have cannot express their genuine opinion in their papers and will only be saved if they write answers memorized by rote learning. Critical thinking, in anyways, is over rated in the land of pure. We want to produce assembly line products for human being with no room for dissenting voices.