State apathy: Growing social bigotry & violence against minorities – by Zeeba Hashmi

A perception exists that laws, no matter how discriminatory they may be in Pakistan for minorities, are exercised in general at the behest of some law practitioners who try to keep the victims away from mob-troubles.

Those publically accused of blasphemy are then either put behind bars under the proxy of protectionism before the FIRs are lodged against them, which puts an entire ensemble into the question of what has allowed bigotry its perpetuation at such prevalent levels that has gone beyond any measure of control by the state.

State, and its policies are partly to be blamed for appeasing the puritanical clergy and its mismatched peace treaties with the militant groups in the interest of strategic depth heavily innate with security agencies that have misconstrued, and now apparently almost de-centralized and contested definition of strategic interests of this country.

The rise in hate crimes against the minorities can be blamed on a number of reasons that become subjected to the government’s apathy, their lack of interest or sense of intimidation at the hands of mindset taken over by militant/jihadist aspirations and aggression. On certain instances, the general fallacy in the laws and constitution concerning minorities which fail to lay the onus on the claimant against the accused, has been dealt with sheer helplessness, even if there is a will to protect the falsely accused from unlawful and vigilante murder.

The intimidation and sometimes, even murder against the law practitioners who have helped the victims out of trouble, has now made everyone compelled to bow down before the unchallenged militant aggression. So much so now that mentally challenged persons, children and anyone who is technically not able to make decision, let alone being able to defend himself/herself, are being easily victimized because they have no proper redress system whatsoever that can help them or merit them a fair trial: this is not an issue of the law, because it stands powerless before an instigated mob.

An ugly case as such could be related to a young resident of Chichawatni in May, 2011 against whom an FIR was lodged for his alleged blasphemy and his family had to vacate their village after being threatened by an angry Muslim mob.

His crime? Of being a mentally-challenged Christian. It was also reported that the mobs were instigated by the local clergy to testify against the accused about his alleged blasphemy. They could not dare refuse the powerful clerical call, unless they earned a wrath of their uncontrolled fanatic mob unleashed at them too.

The case of Aziz Colony in Gujranwala must not be forgotten too easily as it is reflective of government’s apathy towards social suffering of the minorities that its indifference has pushed them into.

In April 2011, the incident involved someone discovering burnt pages of the Holy Quran outside a Christian household.

What appeared to be an attempt to malign and frame the Christian community in a set-up to settle personal scores, the vigilante mob discredited all rationale and instigated violence against an entire Christian community. They ensued physical damage not just to the colony, but also moved forward towards another Christian colony in the proximity. The crowd was averted only after police resisted and prevented them from entering.

Likewise, the tragic incidents of Sambrial and Gojra is still fresh with scars, yet the apathetic attitude by the security is to be blamed for countless deaths that could otherwise have been prevented had the precautionary measures were put in place when the tension was building up. In other such cases of state apathy, it must also be noted that no action had been taken to this day against the hate material that had periodically been spread at mass level by All Pakistan Students Khatm e Nubuwat Federation that has called all Ahmediya Muslims to be “Wajib ul Qatl”. In Fislabad, recently, a life of Naseem Ahmad Butt, among others who met with same fate, was cruelly claimed by the offenders of both humanity and religion.

Had the state ever paid heed to what is being carried out in the name of religion and who is responsible for inciting violence, things would have remained in control.

Needless to say, that it was again the responsibility of the state to take viable actions against the mainstream TV channels that openly air contentious religious issues and decree fatwas of violence and murder. One bigot, Amir Liaqat, has still not been tried for the four murders that followed his TV Fatwa calling all Ahmadiya Muslims as Wajib ul Qatl, and despite everything, he is still allowed to openly incite violence against this particular group.

The entertainment industry is also not free of condoning violence; a Syed Noor movie ” Aik aur Ghazi” in appreciation of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted assailant of the late Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, had passed the Pakistani Censor Board and was run quite conveniantly at cinema halls. It is not only the mainstream media and entertainment that is involved in propogating violence as an accepted form of “Islamic’ morality , but it is the very linkages of some politicians with the sectarian groups, like Rana Sanaullah of the ruling PML (N) in Punjab and the recent acquittals and the recent bailing out of many known sectarian terrorists by the judiciary itself.

Another sheer indifferent attitude of the Government of Punjab towards a specific minority is reflective of how it allows for any untowward situation to develop against the religious minorities of Pakistan. A large scale Khatam-e-Nabuwat/Finality of Prophethood conference (the Federation that has also announced death fatwa against Ahmadis) is taking place on 7th September in Rabwah, the central place of Ahmediya community in Pakistan.

This conference is expected to be attended by hundereds, perhaps even thousands of anti-Ahmediya clergy.

The Rabwah’s Ahmadi Adminsitration has asked its community members to stay indoors to avoid the mobs.

What should have been considered the State’s responsibility to ensure protection of life which, it appears has become more of a privilege than a right that not all citizens of Pakistan are entitled to.



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