Misogyny in Pakistan: A Case Study.
Mukaddam Murder Case
July 20th, 2021, a day before Eid-ul-Adha, an inhuman and sinister murder of Noor Mukaddam took place in Islamabad, Pakistan. Noor Mukaddam, the daughter of Shaukat Mukaddam, ex-Ambassador to South Korea, was brutally murdered at Zahir Jaffer’s residence in Islamabad’s Sector F-7/4 on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021. Noor was a student of International Relations and a hobbyist painter. Noor and Zahir were childhood friends, and their families had close ties for many years. According to secondary sources, Noor and Zahir were in a complicated relationship. However, Noor rejected his romantic advances after she uncovered his extreme violent behavioral tendencies. In response to this rejection, Zahir exacted his revenge. He called Noor on the pretext of speaking to her one last time before moving to the United States, and Noor went to see him on the afternoon of Chaand Raat (Evening before the Eid Celebration), but little did she know she was walking into a death trap. When she arrived at his house, Zahir took her in, held her hostage at gunpoint, and brutally murdered and decapitated her.
On July 20th, Noor’s father went to buy an Eid-Ul-Adha sacrificial animal, and her mother went shopping as they would on any other Eid. Upon returning, they discovered that Noor was missing. They naturally became apprehensive and tried calling her cell phone, but it was off. Zahir, the murderer, came to know that her parents are trying to locate her. Therefore, at gunpoint, he asked Noor, who was being kept hostage by Zahir, to call her parents and tell them she is going for religious Jalsa (gathering) in Lahore with her friends, as Noor used to participate in social work a lot. Parents became at ease now that they knew where their daughter was and that she is doing fine.
Meanwhile, Zahir unleashed his barbaric violence upon Noor, and as per the police report, she was brutally murdered with a sharp-edged knife and (was) subsequently decapitated. According to the autopsy report, her body had several deep marks of knife injuries. Her body was lying at one end of the room and her head, covered in blood, was at the other end of the room. Zahir’s servants called his parents and informed them about the incident when Noor jumped from the terrace to save her life. However, instead of calling the police, his father called the therapy-works team. This company is owned by Zahir's mother, where he was apparently under treatment for his violent behavior. When the team managed to enter the room where the murder happened, they were shocked to see the blood bath. He also attacked one of the therapy-works team members and injured him significantly. One of the team members called the police, and Zahir was apprehended at the scene of the murder.
SSP (Investigation) Ataur Rehman stated, “When we arrested him, he was sound and in his senses. According to the police report, he was of sound mind and had full functioning faculties. He may have had a history [of taking drugs], but at least at this time, he was completely in his senses.”
Zahir claimed that Noor was cheating on him, but according to their mutual friends, their relationship had ended more than two years ago, and they were just friends.
The leaked audio by therapy-works that started making its rounds on social media revealed that Zahir had a history of extreme violent behavior. A recent court hearing revealed that Zahir Jaffar tortured Noor Mukaddam with a metal knuckleduster before beheading her. He had a violent fight with his mother in London, and he seriously stabbed his younger brother with a golf club. It is also being reported that in a party that he hosted with a few of his friends, four girls were brutally murdered. (https://youtu.be/Bi4GgiJTAFc). A recent court hearing revealed that Zahir Jaffar tortured Noor Mukaddam with a metal knuckleduster before beheading her.
This incident has shaken up many hearts in Pakistan. Extremism and violent extremism have many embedded underlying factors. Psychologically, violent behavior is abnormal behavior and is not considered an innate human behavior. It originates from childhood also; upbringing and societal factors play a pivotal role in it. In a society like Pakistan, where domestic violence has become a common practice, cases like Noor's are abundant. Unfortunately, this behavior is further propagated by the positive reinforcement given to the child by stating, “it must be the girl’s fault.” This mindset regarding the societal stigma needs to change aggressively because these parents can potentially raise a monster who will, one day, have the courage to do what Zahir did. When a child receives a toy gun/knife/sword, we introduce them to the tools of violence. A five-year-old does not know the purpose of a gun except that it is used to hurt someone. At a tender age, children should not be taught bravery and courage through toy weapons.
This incident is profoundly horrific, and psychologically, it’s a true example of violent aggression. Dollard et al. (1939) proposed the first systematic theory of aggression. Using assumptions from psychoanalytic theory, they focused on the frustration caused when a goal is unable to be achieved. They suggested that “the occurrence of aggressive behavior always presupposes the existence of frustration” and that “the existence of frustration always leads to some form of aggression."
In Noor mukaddam murder case, it was Noor rejecting Zahir that triggered this violent behavior. The murderer could not accept refusal, and built-up frustration accompanied by violent, aggressive patterns lead to this premeditated and brutal murder.
Misogyny is inherent in society. Whether it was when an influential personality like Benazir Bhutto was making her way to politics and her potential competitors started publishing the photos of her teenage life in the United Kingdom to defame her due to the choice of life she had during her younger days. Misogyny rests within the mind of those political leaders who are part of the government and ridicule Maryam Nawaz Sharif for her physical attributes. The misogynistic social norms are present from the poorest to the most elite of the society. The cases of typical social strata are usually is neither registered nor taken seriously in the society.
Misogyny is not only related to men's behavior or mindset, but some women also subscribe to the same mindset while negating their value as equal human beings who deserve the right to live with dignity. RIP to countless Noors, who were physically and spiritually tortured and murdered at the hands of their close friends or family members.
Subsequent investigations and legal proceedings will reveal further details of this brutal case. The sheer brutality and remorselessness have sparked protests countrywide and worldwide condemnation and abhorrence. Social media, especially Twitter, echoed anger and outrage and has added to the public pressure to bring the killer to justice.
As a society, we should demand justice for Noor and many Noor's who have been victims of violent extremism and are silenced forever. These voices must be heard, and their stories must be echoed in every corner of the globe. These silent screams of victims of such extremism must be piercing the souls of every human. There is a desperate need to have proper rehabilitation programs for the children who start showing violent tendencies early on. Parents must analyze their parenting and reflect upon how their actions and words psychologically affect their children. They must understand that propagating a negative behavior by not punishing or deterring children from bad behavior will lead them not to worry about the consequences of their actions. Furthermore, it is essential to nip extremism and violence from the very beginning teach our kids kindness, compassion, and love. Peace and Love with kindness and compassion are the essential elements that can rescue our society to a place where violent extremism is non-existent.