Pakistan is yet again at crossroads after two brutal suicide attacks on Christians in Peshawar on 22 September 2013. Previously, around forty people died and hundreds were injured in a suicide attack on Shia town in Karachi during March. Earlier, on January, 10, 2013, 82 Hazara Shias were killed and over 200 were injured in two separate bomb blast near Alamdar road, Quetta. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, 84 Shias belonging to Hazara tribe were killed and around 200 were injured in February 26. Owing to malfunctioning of state machinery and proactive terrorist organizations, genocide of minorities in Pakistan has become a routine.
Bhutto, the self-declared liberal politician of Pakistan, constitutionalized religion by declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim. Later on, dictator Zia institutionalized it and thousands of Pakistanis have been paying huge price since then.
Pakistan has gradually turned into hell for its own citizens and a safe haven for foreign jihadi militants. Dream of Pakistani establishment to conquer Afghanistan and India through their tunneled-vision strategic depth has not been fulfilled, but many innocent citizens inside the boundaries of Pakistan have lost their lives, honor, dignity and hope for better future because of the very strategic depth.
There is no need of in-depth analysis, investigative journalism, and expert opinions to understand the dynamics of this sectarian hatred and violence. It is being confessed by the killers themselves. Nothing is hidden. Even a kid knows now that who is pulling the strings and who the players of this dirty game are. But thanks to the impotency of our state organs the killers are provided with every sort of facility even inside jails.
Although, constitutionally Pakistan considers all its citizens equal, it has failed to provide security to its citizens. Vandalization of Christian houses in Lahore and the Gojra incident of previous year clearly indicates that how Islamists treat minorities in Pakistan. It is also factually correct that even top political leaders have fallen prey to Blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated for purpoted blasphemy, whereas a blasphemy case is hanging over Sherry Rehman’s head in Pakistani courts like the proverbial sword of Damocles.
Majority of Pakistani people talk frequently about killings in Ghza, Burma et.al. But when it comes to speak about the rights of their own citizens, Pakistanis, like ostrich, tend to bury their heads deep in sand.
Minorities in Pakistan face three distinctive types of terrorism. The Shias face target killings and suicide attacks. Ahmadis are victimized constitutionally and structurally as every Pakistani, of secular and religious persuasion, ought to sign an undertaking declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim while applying for their passports. Christians are oppressed through Blasphemy laws, Hindus are facing abductions and kidnappings of their educated girls, and Kalasha people are being converted to Islam. Structural, Physical and spiritual violence are in full swing against minorities in Pakistan.
A country that was liberated with the promise to safeguard the rights of Muslims has failed miserably in doing so. Terrorists have taken full control of streets. Not only through mosques hate is being preached, but one can also observe derogatory sectarian remarks inscribed on walls around the cities and inside public toilets.
The growing bigotry and religious fundamentalism has evolved in Pakistan through its school curriculum. Textbooks in Pakistan are used to preach hatred against minorities. Majority textbooks portray the services of Muslims and ignore the brilliant philanthropic services to the country by the minority groups. The impressionable minds of school going children are inculcated with wrong images of minorities.
Minorities have played an important role in the development of Pakistan, yet majority of Pakistani are intentionally kept in dark about their service to the state. Adult Basic Literacy Education in Pakistan was, for example introduced by a Christian Vincent David. Dr. Ruth Pfau, another Christian established Leprosy Centers across the country. Karachi was developed by Parsi community. The renowned columnist late Ardeshir Cowasjee wrote extensively about Jinnah’s dream of liberal Pakistan belonged to this wealthy community.
Ahmadis gave to Pakistan its first Nobel laureate, Dr. Abdul Salam and the most brilliant foreign minister Sir Zafar-Ullah. hias have contributed in every field of life. The community has produced philosophers like Ali Abbas Jalalpuri, Sibt-e Hassan, poets like Josh and Jaun Elia, singers, artists and journalists. The Aga Khan Development Network, an institutional arrangement devoted to improve living standard of people in Gilgit-Baltistan, Chitral, Sindh and Punjab run under the command and supervision of the Aga Khan, the Imam of Ismailis. Ismail Guljee was another outstanding Ismaili artist who was shot dead in his Clifton residence in 2007.
Can Pakistan be prosperous by killing the talented people and by ignoring their contribution just because of their faith? Can Pakistan imagine a country without Shia poets, Ahmadi scientists, Ismaili philanthropists and Christian educational institutions? It is high time Pakistanis should ask themselves these questions.
Eliminating religious fundamentalism in Pakistan is a long haul by any mean. It needs a considerable amount of intellectual input and social struggle. Pakistan’s establishment needs to detach itself from terrorist organizations. If Pakistan is really interested in saving its minorities, it should not give them the elevated status of strategic assets and adopt a coherent policy of zero tolerance against religious fanaticism and terrorism.
The rallies, protests, mobilizations can play a little role in awakening the dead conscious of Pakistanis. Leaders of top militant organizations should be tried without further delay. Pakistan should at least learn from two South Asian countries – Srilanka and Bangladesh in this regard. Civil Society Organizations should rethink their agenda to develop a working relationship with religious organizations. Their mutual understanding and collaboration can be used effectively in learning from each other and eradicating the menace of fundamentalism. Pakistani education system needs to be overhauled completely. Hate Curriculum should be replaced and a curriculum preaching cosmopolitan ethics based on Sufi teachings of love be introduced. Along with Muslim heroes, the services of minorities for Pakistan should also be given proper space in the curriculum.
Any struggle less concrete and visionary will place Pakistan under complete control of religiously driven population, who will continue their mob lynching and mob justice in Pakistan against minorities.