by Syed Qasim Raza
Majority of us have read legends of Robin Hood, a hero in English history, in our childhood. Although an ‘outlaw’ yet everyone seems to like Robin Hood for he is often portrayed as ‘robbing the rich and giving to the poor’. He was narrated to have lived in Sherwood forest which covered a great part of the middle of England, somewhat like the ‘Red Zone’ in Islamabad, where he was joined by other outlaws who, like himself, had very good reasons to live there. This band of men, who followed and defended Robin Hood, is called ‘Merry Men’ in medieval English tales.
The term ‘outlaw’ referred to ‘putting someone outside of the eligibility of legal protection’. In the Common Law of England, a judgment of ‘outlawry’ was one of the harshest penalties in the legal system, since the outlaw could not use the legal system for protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute or kill them. To be declared an outlaw was also considered a form of civil or social death. There might have been contradictions in the history about all the legends of Robin Hood, except one – he used to rob the rich and the wealthy and give to the poor and the oppressed.
Robin is said to have had more than a hundred men in his band. Everyone could shoot well, and all could deal an enemy some hard blows with the quarter-staff, a favorite weapon of Englishmen in the olden time. Indeed, a man had only to prove himself good at these sports, and he became one of Robin’s men. Today we see a band of many hundreds in the ‘Red Zone Islamabad’ with similar talents and much more. The core skill required to be in this band is ‘robbing the poor’. The more you better ‘rob’ the closer you are to your leader. However, the closest you get only if you have talent of generating ideas for the leader on how to ‘rob the poor again and again’.
If, at any time, Robin Hood found himself in danger of being taken, he had only to blow a whistle, which hung round his neck. Very quickly his green-coated men would be at his side, to give him the help he needed. It is not hard to recall an almost identical scene outside Supreme Court of Pakistan on daily basis recently where one after another stood in front of their leader to ‘wash his linen in the public’. They are all of same kind – ruthless, corrupt and hypocrites. Media is also a ‘contractual member’ of this band who serves on assignments of concealing and distorting facts in favor of the leader. We have been watching those ‘robbers’ for decades who gain power turn by turn. If you are watching television these days, you can easily spot candidates for ‘Robin Hood of year 2018’ who, once again, are shouting their stomachs out: “ We feel the pain of the poor. We know how it feels when you are hungry, your kids are hungry. We know you have been deceived by others who looted the money of this poor nation. We pledge to ‘take this money from those plunderers and give back to the poor nation’.
There are many thought-provoking facts about Robin Hood. He was declared ‘an outlaw’ by the justice system for ‘robbing the rich’ regardless of the fact that he was helping the poor. He was not ‘robbing the poor’ and making ‘offshore companies’, buying luxurious flats in London and making his teenage children ‘billionaires’ or, in other case, concealing billions of dollars in Swiss banks, owning 350-acre ‘Rockwood’ Estate in Surrey, and accumulating unaccountable worth of properties on others names; he was living in the woods instead of ‘Prime Minister house’, ‘President house’ or ‘Chief Minister house’; he was riding ‘an ordinary horse’ all his life instead of multi-million luxurious vehicles, chartered planes and private jets; neither he was eligible for foreign medical treatment of cough, tummy-ache and runny-nose nor he was allowed to write-off his ‘personal loans’ in billions by the banks of the state.
Neither the Law did reckon the humble living of Robin Hood nor his generosity to the poor. It only looked at him as a criminal – who was robbing the rich. It shows that even seven hundred years ago, in human societies ‘a robber was a criminal before law’. This particular example is from English history and English judicial system still constitutes the foundations of the judicial system in Pakistan. Now a few simple questions may arise in our minds. For instance, what if someone has ‘robbed’ the poor – the helpless? What if someone has blatantly ‘killed’ innocent poor citizens by using law and order force? What if someone is making friendships with the greatest enemy of the state? What if someone is putting every inch of our homeland under mortgage to accumulate wealth for his family and his ‘Merry Men’? What if someone threatens our security forces in public rallies? What if someone gets caught smuggling millions in looted currency? The list of questions is ceaseless because none of these questions has met a verdict under the Law.
The writer is a graduate of MA Communication Management and Public Relation from London Metropolitan University, U.K.
He can be reached at: [email protected])