“Divine Violence” After the Kharotabad Killings

Syed Sami Raza

Abstract

In 2011 the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan killed a group of foreigners traveling across Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The agencies then tried to cover up the incident by calling it a potential suicide-bombing attack. However, they could not succeed in the cover-up plan primarily due to a photograph of one of the killed aliens—a woman—that appeared on local media. In this photograph the alien woman is shown lying on the ground near a sandbag-covered check-post waving for mercy/justice. The photograph becomes viral on both electronic news and social media and impels the government to order an inquiry. In this article, I engage the concept of “divine violence” and explore the photograph’s politics of aesthetics, which I argue contextualizes the photograph’s meaning during a creative moment for human rights.

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