By Nazeer ArijoNazeer Arijo
May 8, 2019
Addressing a public reception in Chittagong on March 26, 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, “Brotherhood, equality, and fraternity of man – these are all basic points of our religion, culture and civilization and we fought for Pakistan because there was a danger of the denial of these human rights in this Subcontinent.” Unfortunately, the very democratic ideals, so valued by our national icon, are still denied in Pakistan.
The state tolerates intolerance. Extremism is deeply weaved into the psyche of the society; the Bahawalpur college tragedy is the perfect manifestation of the menace, which has now penetrated our seats of learning. As a result intolerance and hate continue to take human lives in our country.
Very recently, Prof Khalid Hameed, head of the English Department at Bahawalpur’s Sadiq Egerton College was stabbed to death by a student of his for ‘promoting un-Islamic activities’. Imagine the hypocrisy of the killer who himself sought and got admission in a co-education institution, but would not tolerate a welcoming event.
In a recent TV talk show, when Mufti Naeem’s attention was drawn to the tragedy in question, he condemned the killer, saying he was totally ignorant of the Islamic laws and principles.
“Ignorance of Islamic teachings is resulting in problems for Muslims,” Imam-i-Kaaba Shaikh Abdullah Awad Al Juhany, one of the imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, told the Paigham-i-Islam Conference recently held in Islamabad. The Pakistan Ulema Council organized the event to declare 2019 the year to end terrorism, extremism and sectarianism.
Earlier, Mashal Khan, a student of the Khan Abul Wali Khan University was brutally killed and accused of blasphemy.
A horrifying aspect of the murders is that these happened in our seats of learning. Students are to be more enlightened, moderate and tolerant than the average citizen. Earlier, the then Punjab governor Salman Taseer was gunned down by a bodyguard.
The moral decay of the society can be gauged from the fact that callous killers are garlanded. Sometimes those involved in extrajudicial killing garner public esteem and appreciation. Recall the scenes of vandalism in the country, and hate speech against the judiciary, military, and government when Asia Bibi was acquitted of a blasphemy charge.
Forced conversions and marriages of Hindu girls are tarnishing the image of both Islam and the country. According to a recent report entitled Forced Conversion and Forced Marriages in Sindh, Pakistan, by University of Birmingham, up to 1,000 women and girls are abducted, forcibly converted and then married off to their abductors every year in Pakistan.
Sectarianism Also Continues To Take A Heavy Toll. Culling Of Shia Hazara Community Goes On Unabated.
According to a National Commission for Human Rights report titled Understanding the Agonies of Ethnic Hazaras, up to 600 people have been killed and more than this number injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta over the last five years. The recent Quetta blast targeting the Shia Hazara community speaks volumes of the onslaught against them. The prime minister visited the families of the victims giving assurances of implementation of the National Action Plan in letter and spirit.
We want people of Western countries to stop hate and intolerance against Muslims in those states while our own society is mired in the menace and we are unwilling to take assertive action against those preaching extremism and hate.
In principle, our leaders should follow in the footsteps of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who has earned international accolades for her exemplary solidarity shown to grieved Muslim families, and for banning automatic weapons in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting by supremacist Brenton Tarrant where 50 Muslims were massacred.
To show her abhorrence of extremism and terrorism she refused to speak his name.
In a rare show of sympathy with the Muslims, she ordered the recitation of the Holy Quran in parliament and for azan to be telecast nationwide. To show respect on the occasion she led a number of women in donning headscarves. Public gatherings were organised where people waved placards reading “They are us” and “We are one”.
Our struggle with extremism and hate will not end until we resolve to show zero tolerance for intolerance and give a shut up call to seminaries supervising hatred and sectarian divide culminating in carnage.
Maj-Genl Asif Ghafoor is on the record having said that the National Action Plan was not executed fuly.
The plan is a 20-points mechanism aimed at fighting extremists after the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar.
The factors undermining NAP should be highlighted and individuals or institutions responsible for not only be named and shamed, but also be brought to book.
A report on the state of the curriculum by the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute has said that for over two decades, the curricula and official textbooks on English, social studies, civics, and Urdu “have material that is directly contrary to the goals and values of a progressive, moderate and democratic Pakistan”. It says the curriculum and the textbooks include hate material and “encourage prejudice, bigotry and discrimination “toward women, religious minorities and other nations”.
A US think-tank says there are around 24 000, madrasa funded by Saudi Arabia in Pakistan and they foment intolerance and sectarianism.
This must be brought to an end.
De-weaponising the country can also help curb terrorism.
Pakistan is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which calls all nations to uphold the fundamental right to life, family, and religious freedom.
Can we be the nation that discovers a cure for our ills?
Only time will tell.
Nazeer ArijoNazeer Arijo is a freelancer