By Arzoo Kazmi
(Translated by New Age Islam Edit Bureau)
21 September 2020
Currently all over Pakistan, particularly in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad slogans declaring a particular sect kafir are being raised. It was unheard of before in this country. It is said that people came out in the streets and shouted slogans. It seems that anti-Shia forces have been provoked in order to divert the attention of the people from the reports of corruption in the army. It should be noted that during the initial period of Islam, Shia and Sunni sects did not exist. The Quran also does not see Muslims from the prism of sectarian divide. Even after the Sunni and Shia sects came into existence, hatred did not exist between them.
During my childhood, I never witnessed any scuffle between the members of Shia and Sunni communities on religious issues. But now, hatred between the two is growing, despite the fact that both the sects believe in the prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad pbuh.
Pakistan's neighbour Iran is a Shia country while Saudi Arabia is a Sunni country. Pakistan maintains diplomatic relations with both. However, Pakistan is closer to Saudi Arabia than to Iran. There is a lot of bad blood between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Sometimes, Pakistan has to support Saudi Arabia but at the same time it cannot afford to antagonise Iran. If the ongoing Shia-Sunni strife is not controlled, it can affect Pakistan's relations with Iran. It's time parties in power tried to end this strife by pacifying the members of both the sects. But the problem is that the atmosphere and education needed for any dialogue is missing in Pakistan.
Presently the education system in Pakistan is in complete disarray. The police stations have turned into centres of bribery. In courts, witnesses are available for a hundred rupees. In courts, judgments are on sale. Food adulteration is rampant. Mosques have become personal property. No one is ready to offer Namaz behind others.
First, Ahmadiyyas were declared kafir. Now Shias are being declared kafir. Not only that, Sunni Muslims have also been divided in Barelvi and Deobandi sects. Although religious political organisations are weak in Pakistan, and people do not give them much importance in elections, they manage to run the government from behind the curtains by exploiting religious issues.
Now they have stirred a new strife between the Shias and the Sunnis. This strife is very dangerous for Pakistan. Its economy is in tatters and Imran Khan's government is struggling to bring it back on track but he finds no respite in sight. The decision of the FATF is on the anvil. If the situation persists, it will be difficult for Pakistan to come out of the grey list of the FATF.
If Shia-Sunni strife is not contained in Pakistan, it may also affect the Muslims of India because a large portion of Pakistani Muslims has immigrated from India and Shias form a large chunk of Indian Muslim population. The Shia-Sunni strife may spread to other Muslim countries and pose another problem to Pakistan as well as to the world.
Pakistan is at the root of this strife. In Pakistan, violence has become a way of life. If someone disagrees on a religious issue, killing him has become a norm. Killing and being killed on a religious issue is considered the short cut to heaven. Thanks to this extremist way of thinking, today everyone is a kafir in the eyes of the others. Leave aside other religious communities, Muslims in Pakistan are enemies of Muslims themselves. Muslims consider only those as Muslims with whom they live at home. All the others are Kafirs to them. This mindset has evolved over the years. This kind of religious fanaticism is on the rise.
Earlier during Ramzan, one could eat behind the curtains. But now restrictions are imposed. Now it is said that everyone has to do the fasting even if one is sick. People are harassed and tortured in the name of religion. Mullahs of both the sects are provoking their followers. These mullahs and maulvis are putting the government under pressure at a time it is already reeling under various problems. The government deals with other problems successfully but when it comes to dealing with religious issues, it fails.
Imran Khan is leading a weak government. He has been at the helm foe quite some time now but his performance has been dismal. A powerful section is trying to dislodge him. But this Shia-Sunni strife has to be contained at any cost. Imran Khan has to project Pakistan as a peace-loving nation, otherwise it will pose serious peoblens for his government and Pakistan.
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