February issue 2012

By | Editorial | News & Politics | Opinion | Published 12 years ago

Where were the law enforcement agencies when the proscribed outfits Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Khatm-e-Nabuwwat held a rally against the Ahmediyya community in ‘Pindi on January 29?

These preachers of hatred had announced their intent well in advance through anti-Ahmedi posters and banners that appeared on ‘Pindi lamp posts and shops many days earlier. And yet, neither the local authorities nor the law enforcement agencies lifted a finger to stop this public display of hate literature against a section of society in the capital’s twin city.

So will religious intolerance continue to be order of the day in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

It appears so. Sectarianism has reared its ugly head once again. This time round Shia lawyers are being targeted. In 2011 alone, 24 lawyers were targeted. And at the start of the new year, four lawyers were gunned down, including three members of one family alone. Close relatives of the slain lawyers are certain they can identify the killers, but the police are not particularly interested.

While the law enforcement agencies are quick to pounce on petty thieves, they are unwilling to lay their hands on these religious bigots who resort to murder in the name of Islam.

Not so long ago, it was the Shia doctors who were being targeted. Around 80 doctors or so were shot dead in clinics, hospitals and on the streets, and many hundreds were forced to flee Pakistan and settle abroad. In a country where the doctor-patient ratio is 1 : 1254, it was heartbreaking to see qualified professionals being gunned down so ruthlessly. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the medical community failed to bring any culprits to book.

At a recent jalsa in Karachi, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, spoke against the practice of spreading Shariat through the use of the gun. One wishes the maulana had gone a step further and condemned the recent surge in the killings of Shias.

But clerics, political or otherwise, have not been known to touch touch issues of sectarian or minority killings. There exists a conspiracy of silence among them. Islam, in their sanctimonius view, sanctions and condones all killings in the name of religion. Meanwhile, the state is afraid to take on these perpetrators of violence, who have been nurtured by “the state within the state.”

As for the judiciary, of late it has been so consumed with issues like Memogate, the NRO, and Presidential Immunity, that sectarianism has virtually found no mention in its discourse.

Who, then, do the relatives of victims of sectarian killings turn to for justice — and future security?

Unless the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the government enforce the writ of the law and take the murderers to task, this country will be torn apart by sectarian groups taking up positions against each other. And once the bloody carnage begins, it will be impossible to control the mobs.


The February 2012 issue of Newsline is available at newsstands.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.

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