How much killing is too much?
In a few short years, if the violence continues to escalate like this, there may be no white side in Pakistan’s flag.
The Pakistani flag is an emblem of freedom and independence for all Pakistanis. The star and the crescent symbolise light and progress respectively. The dark green represents Pakistan’s Muslim population, and since this is a majority, the green covers the greater amount of the flag. The white strip on the side represents the country’s minority groups.
For a moment, dear reader, just imagine the green side overlapping and taking over the white until the entire flag is green. Bold and unimaginable isn't it?
However, this image isn't far from the truth. It depicts what is happening right now in Pakistan, where every minority is high on the genocide list.
In the words of Nitin Pai, the white stripe on Pakistan’s flag is indeed being eaten up.
On May 15, two Hazaras were killed and one was injured in Quetta. On April 3, nine Shia passengers were taken off a bus in Gilgit and executed. This was after a grenade attack on an anti-Shia rally in the same area killed four people and injured almost another 50. This is everyday news, and one doesn't even bat an eyelid at these figures any more.
Sadly, the Shia sect is not the only one being targeted.
In the past, the Christian, Ahmadi and Hindu communities have experienced sectarian violence too. The treatment of Pakistan’s minorities has never been good, but, in the last few years, things have gone from hostile to absolutely intolerant.
Our religion, Islam, teaches us patience, tolerance and respect for the faith practised by others.
Why, then, are we so averse to any opinion that doesn't match ours?
Why has our government remained helpless?
Why is there a prevalent attitude of utter indifference when we watch minorities being mistreated?
Nitin Pai analysed some reports about several Pakistani Hindu families seeking asylum in India. He says,
Compiling figures from Sindhi language newspapers, Marvi Sirmed, a Pakistani writer and activist, has estimated that 3,000 Hindu girls have been abducted and converted to Islam in the province. Christian families have been forced to flee after charges of blasphemy were levelled against their members.
Yet, all the government does is promise greater help, but these are just empty words with no impact.
Didn't our founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, express his desire for every Pakistani citizen, whether male or female, Muslim or Christian or Hindu – to be treated as an equal?
Nazir Bhatti, editor of the Pakistan Christian Post and an activist, has experienced such traumatic events that he has been forced to flee Pakistan for his own safety.
On February 13 1997, Bhatti was on the streets, taking part in a peaceful protest. Things turned rather nasty as police fired shots into the crowd and began to use tear gas. The attacks killed one and three were injured. Bhatti was singled out by police being the leader of the procession.
“Twenty-one false cases were filed against me in two hours,” he said, adding that murder and blasphemy being amongst the charges.
“The police launched FIRs against 383 people that night”.
Bhatti then spent the year of 1998 hiding in Lahore and Islamabad, waiting, hoping that the cases would be withdrawn.
For someone who is a minority, fighting a case against the majority wasn’t an option.
“Getting bail for 21 serious charges would have been next to impossible,” he said.
In 1998, Bhatti left Pakistan and has been in the US ever since.
The term genocide shouldn't be used loosely.
Nitin Pai says,
Genocide specifically means “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
It includes killing people on account of belonging to a group; causing them serious bodily or mental harm; deliberately inflicting conditions to destroy the group in whole or in part; preventing births and transferring children by force.
At the moment, considering the current situation, Pakistan falls under most of the above stated description. The question is; how much more of this is to take place for some action to be taken?
To quote Bob Dylan,
‘How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?’
Read more by Aneka here, or follow her on Twitter @anekachohan