The growing religious intolerance in a country is usually a symptom of inherent underlying problems in a society. Viewing such events as a scheme by foreign elements obsessed with disturbing peace and harmony in the country is naive. Over the years, one thing that has become loudly clear is that authorities in Pakistan are not interested in paying attention to the glaring signs of all that is wrong here. The Jaranwala incident and the unverified claims made to shift the blame yet is another example of the state’s lack of willingness to do something about the regressive path much of society is on. Now a recently published report on a people’s inquiry conducted by a panel of rights experts has highlighted flaws in the investigation process regarding the Jaranwala mob attack and tried to explain the extent of decay Pakistan is facing. The inquiry’s findings say that no evidence has been found to back the IG of Punjab’s statement regarding possible interference of foreign elements, and underscores how some segments are misusing Pakistani laws to settle disagreements. It also gives some shocking details about not only the laid-back attitude adopted by the police regarding the investigation but also how the area’s affected Christians were coerced by law enforcement to do as directed.
Unfortunately, it seems we are still operating on a wrap-it-up-quickly approach towards solving such crimes. One feature that is becoming more and more apparent in such mob attacks is the participation of young teenage boys who carry out attacks with horrific determination. Such seeds of hatred can only be sown in a country whose authorities wilfully neglect the plight of minority communities.
Almost a month after the Jaranwala incident, Christian children from the area are reportedly scared of going to school, unable to shake off the discrimination they recently went through. For most minority communities, living in Pakistan is a hidden battle they courageously tackle, fearing that any resistance or protest will make matters even worse for them. According to a report published by the HRCP on minority sanitation workers in Pakistan a couple of weeks ago, sometimes privileged employers offer lucrative perks like a house or other such benefits against a promise by the minority worker that s/he will accept the majority religion. Pakistan is undoubtedly trapped in a polycrisis – the return of terror, the lingering threat of economic default, political uncertainty, etc. Under the sea of these problems, the plight of minority communities remains ignored. But an economically strong or politically stable country will still remain far away from progress and prosperity if it continues to ignore its minority communities. We have the example of India – a country that is fast becoming a major economic power – whose shameful record of its treatment against minorities as well as dissidents rightly refuses to fade into oblivion. It’s time to understand that looking back from our mirror is an ugly reality that needs to be fixed now.