Bulleh Shah’s Kasur

8:51 am

Years ago, the city of Kasur would only have evoked the image of the famous Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah, as the location of his shrine. Today, the name rings of child abuse and rape scandals, abduction and murder – but are we willing to accept that?

Last Thursday, the eleventh incident regarding the kidnapping, rape and murder of a minor took place on Road Kot. Some people are reporting it as the first case of 2018, perhaps not realizing that by calling it ‘the first’, we are mentally preparing ourselves for more to follow. But that seems to be the case.

Since the scandal was revealed, there has been an appalling lack of action in the investigation. Eight year old Zainab is being mourned nation-wide, but not avenged. The tag #Justice4Zainab has spread wide on social media, but is largely lacking on a political and government front. It seems unfortunate, but inevitable, that soon this will become yet another case on the list, added to the pile of names that will be resurrected only when a new, horrible incident takes place – because if there is one thing that we Pakistanis seem to excel at, it is sweeping our discomfort under the rug.

Ask any Pakistani what Kasur is associated with in their mind, and they will probably tell you about the shrine of Baba Bulleh Shah, linking it to mysticism and poetry. Searching ‘Kasur’ on Google does not bring up images of the victims of the scandal or their families, but instead lights up your screen with the museums, shrines and mosques of the city. Its Wikipedia page credits it as being the ‘birth city of the Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah,’ and makes no mention of child abuse.

In our glorification of our past heroes and inspirations, we fail to see the present dirt before our eyes. A city in which the brutal abuse of more than ten children took place within the span of one year should no longer be associated a poet who once said,


“Tear down the mosque, the temple, everything in sight.
But don’t break a human heart. For that is where God resides.”

The breaking of a human heart was an act so sorrowful for the mystical man that one shudders to think what he would say about today’s situation. Zainab’s parents were performing Umrah in Makkah while the little girl stayed with her aunts, a situation that made her perhaps even more vulnerable than the other children in the streets of Kasur. To think that the city is plagued with the kind of sociopaths who would take advantage of that vulnerability makes it very clear that today there is no concern for the human heart, or the human soul.

As we lament the loss of yet another innocent life, it is worth lamenting the denial with which we continue to live. It is obvious, but not acknowledged, that the spiritual purity of Kasur died when Baba Bulleh Shah did. Perhaps it is finally time to let the title go.