Rising hatred

 
November 23, 2020

Yet another senseless killing, just one more in a long and frighteningly disturbing list of crimes perpetrated against religious minorities in this country. This time the murder occurred on Friday,...

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Yet another senseless killing, just one more in a long and frighteningly disturbing list of crimes perpetrated against religious minorities in this country. This time the murder occurred on Friday, when a 31-year-old doctor belonging to the Ahmadi community was shot dead after a teenage boy opened fire on him at his home in Punjab’s Nankana Sahib district; the deceased’s father and uncles were injured in the attack as well. This year has seen a glaring increase in attacks on people from the Ahmadi community. Nothing much comes after these murders, except for a few official condemnations. Governments at every level in Pakistan – be they federal, provincial or local – have shown that providing security to minority communities is not a priority for them. We have even seen law-enforcement officials either join in or stand to the side as places of worship are burned and members of minority communities shot or killed in the country. Often, the police refuse to file FIRs and no action is taken against those responsible.

One reason such mobs feel emboldened to act on their hatred is the encouragement they have been given by forces across the political spectrum. When the TLP was spewing hatred daily during its first Faizabad dharna, few dared to contradict. Its performance during the 2018 elections showed that there are a significant number of votes in peddling hate. While there are laws available to deal with any hate-inspired faith-based killing, the response of individuals or mobs to take vengeance on their own has become such a normal part of life in Pakistan that barely any media reports the incident after it occurred. Any real change in Pakistan will have to come with a change in the mindset of the people. Is this because we do not consider our religious minorities important or have we just become immune to their oppression? Cases of major mob violence against minorities remain unresolved.

The ease with which people are incited will have to change, but the reason people continue to be incited is because overall society tolerates it. Such violence is condemnable, but so is our apathy to such incidents. There should no longer be any tolerance for those who spread hate, be it politicians, religious clerics or those in the media. Naya Pakistan will only be worth living in if it respects all Pakistanis, regardless of creed. As these recent murders show, we are a long way from reaching that ideal.



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