A critical view on animal cruelty and religious dogma in Pakistan – by Shiraz Paracha


Slaughter of cow calves is common in some parts of Pakistan but the society is shockingly insensitive to such cruelty. It seems insane to raise the issue of animal cruelty in a country where violent human deaths are taken casually; however, observing cruelty to animals has compelled me to write about the this issue and raise some q…uestions.

Some times ago a local daily had reported that hundreds of baby cows and buffalo were killed in Peshawar’s illegal slaughterhouses with some calves just few days old. When the Police raided a slaughterhouse, reportedly, the legs of one calf were cut while it was still alive; the purpose was to sell the calf as a tender piece of lamb meat. That practice continues and meat is supplied to posh restaurants in the city where it is sold as lamb. The business is booming due to the high demand.

Politicians, businessmen, civil servants, journalists and intellectuals eat at restaurants that sell such meat. While eating tons of young flesh, members of intelligentsia discuss world problems and talk about rights and responsibilities.

Milkmen around the city of Peshawar sell newly born calves because according to their calculations, everyday a baby cow drinks milk worth 100 to 200 Pakistani rupees. Greedy milkmen deprive calves of their mothers’ love and sell them to butchers for rupees 1,500 to 2,000 each. After separating mothers from babies, cows and buffalo are injected with special chemicals so that the animals start giving more milk.

Interestingly, butchers, milkmen, restaurant owners and meat eaters are all faithful Muslims. Most of them offer five-time prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan and perform the pilgrimage of hajj.

Anti-India and anti-Hindu Pakistani society adhere to a very conservative interpretation of Islam but in many ways Pakistanis are, culturally, close to Hindus. One sign of this cultural association is Pakistanis’ preference of mutton over beef. In Pakistan, lamb meat is more expensive than beef.

Few years ago my little daughter, Saba, came to Pakistan from abroad. She was very excited to visit her homeland. As we left the Peshawar airport, Saba told me about her two cats which she had left behind. Saba is an animal lover.
As we passed through a busy Peshawar street, Saba started screaming. She couldn’t comprehend why a man was beating a horse that was pulling a cart. I tried to calm her down but cruelty to animals could be seen all around. Fragile donkeys were pulling weight load that seemed 100 times heavier than their capacity but owners were hitting poor donkeys with sticks. Dozens of people were riding ‘tongas’ and horses were whipped by impatient ‘kochwans’ (tonga drivers). Live chicken were kept in horrible conditions. A van with live animals passed by us in which knife waving butchers were sitting in the back.

All such scenes horrified Saba. She kept crying and repeatedly asked: “Dad, I do not want to stay here, please, take me back to the airport?” I had no explanation. Eventually, she stayed in Pakistan for a couple of weeks but her mood was spoiled. Cruelty to animals is so common in Pakistan that no one notices it. Actually, it can be a symptom of deeper behavioral issues.

In the past 30 years, Pakistan appears to have turned into a confused society where faith, business and politics are mixed up and messed up. Most religious rituals and symbols are based on distorted and inaccurate history account. Exhibitionism is a way of life in the post 1980s Pakistan. The most corrupt pretend to be most religious. Highly confused and cruel people preach Certainty in the name of Islam. Such people spread hate and division in the society using religion as a weapon. Hate preachers are treated as ‘sacred cows’ because they have the protection of the military, which has the dominant role and the final say in Pakistan. Generals have been using religious sentiments to gain legitimacy and respect.

Forced imposition of borrowed religious and cultural identities has damaged the social fiber of the society. The ruling elites of Pakistan are afraid of open and honest dialogue. Mullahs have the monopoly over religious interpretations and they use religion to suppress truth. Mullahs of different brands and sects tell the public everything but the truth. This has created confusion and division in the society where every group wants to enforce its own brand of truth and often resort to violence.

Superficiality and double standards are common but the society seems to be in a state of denial. For example, thousands of Pakistanis, including the educated classes, truly believe that the Taliban brand of Islam will dominate the world soon. There is little soul searching or honest and critical self-analysis.

Everything is left to God. Many people do not initiate reforms in the hope that God will fix their problems. Even crimes are committed with the belief that eventually God will forgive.

Every year, around two million Pakistanis gather near Lahore at the annual assembly of the Tabligi Jamat. Many in attendance are involved in the abuse of law and human rights but at the annual gathering they, too, cry and beg God to resolve theirs’, Pakistan’s and the larger Muslim community problems.

In few months, Pakistanis will slaughter millions of animals on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. Many will even borrow money to buy an animal to perform the ritual. Others will spend hundreds of thousands of rupees to show off their wealth. In the entire country cruelty to animals will be displayed publicly. The rich and the poor, the young and the old, educated and illiterate, everybody will be excited by the game of blood on the streets in the name of God.

Pakistanis are expected to spend more than 300 million dollars on animals that will be killed in just three days. Such a huge sum could be used for humane purpose in a country that is suffering from chronic economic crisis.

As compared to other faiths, Islam does not believe in dogma. It is simple and rational. It is easy and flexible. Islam emphasizes kindness and honesty. Kindness to animals is part of Islamic teachings but the political use of Islam has caused harm to Muslims in many ways. One aspect of this damage is growing cruelty and insensitivity.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, mullahs and the military have been promoting dogma in the name of religion. Any suggestion or rational solution is considered a contempt and an attack on Islam. Winds of intolerance have blown away reason and logic and it is extremely sad.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. His email address is: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.comSee More


13 responses to “A critical view on animal cruelty and religious dogma in Pakistan – by Shiraz Paracha”

  1. ur article is too generally based mr paracha… i agree that there is cruelty confusion and misconception but do not suggest that we donot know our religion properly we may not be following it correctly but we do know the difference of right from rong but it depends on person to person for dere practicing.

    n we are still helping the flood victims but dont u think that ur actually overlooking the concept of eid ul azha in criticizing the qurbani? u know that Qurbani is an obligation on all those who have the means to pay for it regardless of the fact that dey help and support the flood victims or not and ur also overlooking the fact that the meat from this kind of religious obligation is distributed among the poor instead of being kept to ourselves so dat is good food worth 300mn dollars dat is being distributed among the victims and the poor both….. ur being extremely general in your article in riting all of the people from every walk of life to be the same as u imagine them…i dont approve of ur article completly….it is flawed very general and without statistics or proof…

  2. Dont take the message kill the messenger… No Worries that’s our national psychology. If our nation will not eat for few weeks or one Eid, and spend that money on infrastructure that will help in long run for sure..
    Problem is instead of understanding the meaning of any religious ritual we literally want to perform it as is. Can’t we Qurban one Eid_Qurban on flood victims…

  3. its not love of Allah, its our love for meat ….mmmmm ……lamb and goat meat that we slaughter animals. Its not qurbani its simply hypocracy!

  4. cruetly against animal exists in many part of the world and not only Pakistan. You just have to go to the Eastern Asian countries to see how animal are treated. I once travel to Madagascar, in Africa; there, people are so poor that they cut only one wing of the chicken for a meal. the chicken is left alive for another occasion where presumably they will cut the other wing !

  5. The author is confused. Surely, animals are treated badly in our country but it has nothing to do with Eid-ul-Adha. Please read Islam, before you start writing an article. Cows/Goats/Lambs are killed on the occassion of Eid since it is Sunnah and by the order of Allah. It has nothing to do with animal cruelty. Dont confuse animal sacrifice with animal cruelty.

    No wonder, our so called ‘intellect tabqa’ always confuses other problems with religious principles/obligations.

  6. Pakistan is a country continually begging the west for funding….YET….are willing to spend 300 million dollars a year torturing and slaughtering innocent animals.
    It is no accident Pakistan has such a terrible reputation for cruelty throughout the world.
    Pakistani people are cruel to their women and cruel to their animals…..the men in particular of Pakistan should hang their heads in shame….GOD will NOT forgive a life of sin….YOU will have to face your judgement day…..have fun in HELL.

  7. ancient medieval moon god cult of arabia has taken over paki land. muslims lost their sensibilities and became slave of moon god and his 3 daughter goddesses. faithfreedom dot org and refugefromislam dot com are some sources which can help you become a superior infidel and proud murtad than the robots of moon god who are busy in fighting the war of the believers to make the world go back 1400 years. leave the cult, be a proud unbeliever like Me. May Jesus Christ Helps You leave the moon god cult.



  9. I wonder what is Mr. Paracha’s fault? He is simply offering us the mirror and we keep denying what we see……our confused, distorted image and holier-than-thou shameless faces! But be warned Mr. Paracha, animal rights – or protection against cruelty to animals – can only be realised when we have a semblance of respect for human rights…….which I’m afraid we don’t in a self-obsessed, warmongering security-state mindset that all of us are rabidly in!

  10. “ancient medieval moon god cult of arabia has taken over paki land.”

    At least be respectful and say Pakistan instead of “paki land.”

    “muslims lost their sensibilities and became slave of moon god and his 3 daughter goddesses.”

    We only believe in Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Christians are the ones who officially believe in three “gods.” And the whole “moon god” thing is a terrible lie. Read this:


    “faithfreedom dot org and refugefromislam dot com are some sources…”

    Those are ultra Islamophobic websites.

    “…which can help you become a superior infidel and proud murtad…”

    Muslims don’t use the word “infidel”:


    “than the robots of moon god who are busy in fighting the war of the believers to make the world go back 1400 years.”

    And you’re fighting the Muslims to take them 2000 years back to Jahiliyyah.

    “…be a proud unbeliever like Me.”

    We’re proud unbelievers in the Trinity and your demigod.

    “May Jesus Christ Helps You leave the moon god cult.”

    This is Shirk. Asking Jesus (AS) for help rather than directly asking God is Shirk. And those who don’t repent from Shirk, will go to hell.

    May Allah guide you towards Islaam.

  11. The article obviously offers an honest reflection on the current scenario in Pakistan. It is a place where cruelty to animals is something overlooked. However the roots go deeper then that…its not just the mentality its the whole religion.
    Animal sacrifice is incorporated in Islam …the Id isn’t something associated with Pakistan but the whole moslim word.
    About the political and economic dilemma a cream class has a higher stake in creating a mass chaos. The effort is appreciated Mr.Paracha…

  12. What does religion have to do with the killing of animals, why is their life not as precious as ours? where is the proof that god exists? with whatever name one wants to give? A book does not prove to me that God exists and the people that believe in God tend to do odd things that i cant comprehend like the sacrifice of an animal. The people that dont sacrifice animals go on to live normal happy lives? arnt we at a point in society now where things should seem a little clearly an that the killing of animals for ceremonies is not necessary but rather the saving of animals, by 2050 it is predicted that half the species of animals will be globally extinct, which in turn breaks the natural food chain, which affects the future of humans and their children. I will never understand why if god is so great would want a creation of his own to be sacrificed at the hands of humans… i tend to agree with the article, ther is too much cruelty and financially islam needs balancing out ther are too many rich and too many poor an very few middle men, if the finance improved so would the welfare to other people and other animals.

  13. Only if you stop mingling things around!
    Eid-ul-Adha is not a killing spree you must read some Islamic texts to know its background and value.
    Dont be a waste of Oxygen, use it for good.