June Issue 2010

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 12 years ago

Pakistan is fast becoming a state that will be habitable only for extremists: religious bigots who hold the view that only Muslims (as defined by them) have the right to live in this country — and that all non-Muslims are kafirs, infidels who arewajib-ul-qatl or deserve to be killed. Further, that all those who kill them are guaranteed a place in heaven, replete with houris and streams of milk and honey.

It’s criminal that those who harbour such hatred are being allowed to operate with impunity, to spout venom from the pulpits of mosques, to train in the Punjab government’s backyard while the head honcho feigns ignorance, even as his own law minister is seen hobnobbing with the Sipah-e-Sahaba at an election rally in Jhang.

Is it any surprise then that two dastardly attacks are carried out in broad daylight on Ahmedi mosques in Lahore, killing 95 people and injuring a 100 more. This is followed by yet another strike by the same terrorist group at a government hospital — to kill or secure the release of an accomplice recuperating in the same emergency ward as the victims of the earlier attacks.

How does this reflect on the intelligence and state of preparedness of this country’s security network that still remains ‘unaware’ of the hideouts of these elements, who have been making life intolerable for Pakistan’s small minority communities for several years now?

Ahmedi mosques, Christian churches and Hindu temples have been vandalised, their properties burnt or seized illegally; additionally, forcible conversions and marriages have taken place. And the culprits have always managed to escape the (not-so-long?) arm of the law.

Ironically, it is these very characters who have been quick to use the controversial blasphemy law to implicate minorities in false cases and make sure that they are lynched by charged mobs or left to rot in jails forever. Any attempts to make amendments to this law have met with stiff resistance from them, forcing the government to back off.

Consequently, the perpetrators of these hate crimes are getting bolder by the day. Three days after the attacks on the Ahmedi mosques, a father and son from the community were stabbed by a fanatic in Narowal wanting to convert them. The father died instantaneously. The hate crimes against the Shias have not ceased either. Yet another young doctor was gunned down — a stark reminder of the murder of 74 other Shia doctors in Karachi between the early 1990s and 2002, which remain unresolved to this day.

Likewise, the victims of the Gojra and Shantinagar incidents in which several Christian families lost their family members and property are yet to get any justice. There are no accused to hold to account — and the few who were arrested have been acquitted for “want of evidence.”

What evidence would be needed to prove an “identified” accused’s culpability? Only recently, Maulana Aziz and his entire family were acquitted of charges of illegally occupying a children’s library in Islamabad for lack of evidence.

Wasn’t this “illegal occupation” one of the causes that had sparked off the whole Lal Masjid furore in the first place? This fact was reported in the country’s major newspapers at the time. If these reports were inadmissible in a court of law, why couldn’t the police find any witnesses to substantiate the charge? Was it the threats from extremist forces or orders from some relevant quarters at the top that made the police and the prosecutor back off?

The June issue of Newsline is on newsstands now.

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