Is Pakistan Really Heading Towards Being Another Iraq?
The charge of blasphemy on Junaid Jamshed, being a religious preacher, was pretty shocking not only for Pakistanis, but also for the people all over the world. Previously, non-Muslims, mainly Christians, had been the common victim of such an accusation. Several incidents in Pakistan have taken place in which the incited mob killed dozens of non-Muslims over accusations of blasphemy even before the courts could hear and decide about the charges. Last month (in November), a Christian couple was tortured to death and their bodies were incinerated in a brick kiln over the blasphemy charge.
These were the tragic incidents that developed the profound sense of insecurity to the non-Muslims in Pakistan. However, the murder of former Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, Gilgitbaltistan`s court order against Geo News`s people over blasphemy charges and now registering a case against Junaid Jamshed are a clear evidence that Muslims are also becoming the victim of the same law now.
To tell the truth, when we look into these cases, personal disputes or rivalries turn out to be the main causes behind most of the blasphemy accusations which proves the misuse of Blasphemy law in the country. Further, in the case of former Governor Punjab`s murder, instead of condemning the murder, the killer (Mumtaz Qadri Salman Taseer`s security guard) was openly supported not only by some political personalities, but also by lawyers which did not leave a positive impression all over the world about Pakistan.
It is the part of the history that Pakistan came into existence due to the reason that Muslims, as a religious minority of the undivided India, were feeling discriminated on the basis of their religion. Logically speaking, had the Muslims not have come a cross the religion-based discrimination or victimization, the sub-continent would have not been divided. Perhaps, taking lesson from this, the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, announced to give the non-Muslim Pakistanis the equal rights in the newly born country. In his important speech in August 1947, he said,
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
He further said,
“We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
But, very unfortunately, instead of implementing the Muhammad Ali Jinnah`s clear-cut guide, religious and sectarian extremism was promoted in the country. Pakistan`s policy about the Afghan war during 80`s made the situation quite worse. In the same connection, Pakistani laws were made particularly severe by adding a number of clauses to the laws by General Zia-ul Haq`s government to “Islamicise” the laws. In fact, the way Pakistani establishment promoted the “Jihadi mind set”, it eventually divided Pakistanis on the basis of their religions, sects and even extremist and liberal thinking.
This is the reason why Pakistan is having religious & sectarian rivalries and the resulted violence including the misuse of blasphemy laws. The killings of non-Muslim minorities, targeting Shias, Hazaras and even the liberal-minded political parties are the result of the same. Thousands of people have left Pakistan due to the same reason.
In order to discourage the extremism and develop religious and sectarian harmony in the country, some bold steps need to be taken before it is too late. All Pakistanis need be equally treated irrespective of their religion, sect or ethnicity. In this respect, the demand from Muttahida Qoumi Movement, which is a flag bear of liberal and enlightened Pakistan, to remove the term “minority” for non-Muslims in the country seems to be a quit pertinent step towards building the non-Muslims` confidence.
Furthermore, Pakistani establishment will have to altogether reverse its long-prevailing policy of supporting the Jihadi group so-called “Strategic Assets” as Pakistan, as a country, and its people have already faced extremely negative consequences of the same. Otherwise, considering the deepening divisions among various communities and the rapidly increasing hatred are obviously indicating that if all these were not controlled soon can easily turn Pakistan into another Iraq.