Dec 17, 2012 - published work, religion, TTP    7 Comments

How to stop worrying [about tattoos] and start [allowing more people to continue] living

If Pakistanis are good at anything, it is forgetting the core of a problem and going in pursuit of the frivolous. The recent case of this inanity followed after the weekend attack on Peshawar airport and the PAF airbase adjoining it.

The attack on the airport killed around ten people, including five of the attackers, and wounded dozens. It should have forced us to rethink the possibility of coming up with the alternative counter terrorism, counter-insurgency and intelligence strategies because the ones that are at present in operation are clearly not working.

One would have thought, or rather hoped, that the politicians, policymakers and defence strategists would sit down and try to come up with a long-lasting effective solution but no tragedy in this country is big enough to make us do that. However, a tattoo on the body of one of the slain terrorists has made every politically religious-minded person come out in defence of the TTP (which has already claimed the responsibility for the attack). It clearly indicates that our priority lies not in making the country secure for its citizens but in coming up with excuses that Muslims cannot kill Muslims and in justifying that members of the TTP cannot sport tattoos of fantasy and erotica genres.

From Mufti Naeem of Karachi’s Jamia Binoria to Professor Khursheed Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami to Tahir Ashrafi of the Pakistan Ulema Council, everyone has come out and said that a practising Muslim cannot have such demonic images on his body.

Their argument is fallacious and we know that Muslims kill Muslims all the time; they did that during the Iran-Iraq War, they have been at it since the Soviets left Afghanistan and they are doing it every day in Pakistan. Muslims can and do have tattoos — and with a 97 per cent Muslim population, the tattoo business is on the rise in Pakistan’s big cities. One must ask these gentlemen about the non-practising Muslims or those who probably dabbled in Goth rock previously and then were recruited by the Taliban. We know that nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

This is not the first time we have deviated from what is important and focused on the peripheral. The current adviser to the prime minister on interior has likened attackers in the past — in the case of the PAF Mehran Base — to characters out of Star Wars. Most of us joked about Darth Vader attacking the base but let us pause and pontificate about the feelings of the families of those who perished in the attacks and had to listen to supposedly responsible officials making a mockery of their loss by giving such statements.

ANP ministers in KPK celebrate Dileep Kumar’s birthday in Peshawar and Sind Assembly passed resolutions on Michael Jackson’s death. Parliamentarians in the Punjab assembly do not care about going after the religious extremists and terrorists present in the province, instead preferring to go after tax-paying cellular companies, their customers and their late-night telephone habits. If our parliamentarians cannot discern between the importance of a few hundred thousand teenagers indulging in late-night romance and terrorists involved in heinous sectarian killings and suicide bombings, then they perhaps should not be sitting in the august assemblies lording over our fates.

Tattoos on the bodies of terrorists, late-night phone packages and Dilip Kumar’s 90th birthday are not our concerns; the security of citizens and creating an environment that encourages healthy economic activity are. It is about time we focus on the fundamentals and ignore the frivolous.

First Published in The Express Tribune 

The dead terrorist with the “demonic” tattoo – photo courtesy Reuters

Here are some examples of shariah compliant tattoos


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  • Drove it home!

  • Kudos, drove it home!

  • Let people live. What a radical idea! This is a government that has no answers because it cannot speak to the real concerns of the people who pay for them to do EXACTLY that. Tattoos and private phone calls are the equivalent of walking around with a clipboard, pretending to be busy. But please, don’t think I’m picking on Pakistan… There are fingers pointing my way too. Great post… D. Lily

  • Good story… just want to add a comment by saying … “Muslims killed Muslims” first of all if a person who is muslim killed another muslim it means that person is excluded from the list of muslims….. it means we are so called muslims….. and our corrupt govt is nothing more than that…..

  • muslims have been killing muslims long before iran iraq war. omar ibn khattab was killed by muslims. osman ibn affan was killed by muslims and mohammad ibn abu bakr was a part of the killing group at one point. ali ibn abi talib was killed or so my history tells me. if i look more, ayesha’s forces fought with Ali’s forces and talha and zubair, both part of ashra-e-mubasshira were killed in that war. karbala is another example. hajjaj bin yousuf and ibn-e-qasim is another story.
    the point is not whether the tattoo is legit or not. the point is that we have not been able to safe guard our land. who cares if its a US marine tattoo. lets assume it was a marine… does that change anything? our land is still vulnerable. fine india and the USA might be doing it covertly right now but what if tomorrow they decide to do it in the open… how would that change the result?

    PS: tribune did not approve this comment.

  • @ Sami (( omar ibn khattab was killed by muslims.)))

    Lemme set the record straight. Omar ibn Khitab was killed by Firouz Nevahdi aka Abu Lulu a Zoroastrian by religion.

  • tattoos designs are just body art , why complications with them ?

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