KARACHI: In the aftermath of the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, minorities have started feeling that they need to be more cautious with their words and manners.
“It’s not about respecting the law. We all respect other religions but we fear the misuse of it [the law],” said A, a Hindu by religion. “Since we are living in an Islamic republic, we expect laws to be based on the Shariat and the Quran but there are people who are misusing these pure principles for their own malign intentions.”
A added that intolerance and misuse of the law is causing more damage to the nation and the image of Islam than to people who are dying because of it.
As a result, most members of minority communities are feeling insecure in the country. “I don’t know whether we are safe or not because the people, who were raising a voice for us, have also been silenced,” said B, a Christian woman. B said she feels more alienated now than ever.
“My colleagues have the same attitude towards with me and so do the people of my neighbourhood, which is why I still love Pakistan but I still can’t escape from the hidden fear,” she added. B further said that several people from her community migrated to the US, Canada and Australia but she never considered the possibility because she was very happy in Pakistan. “This incident has, however, made me think about it.”
B now feels that even though they will be second-class citizens in any other country, as they are in Pakistan, they will at least have rights. She said that all her family members have instructed their children to avoid any confrontations at school to be safe.
A representative of a Hindu association in Sindh told The Express Tribune that they are very sad about the killing of Salmaan Taseer. He added that the Hindus had suffered a lot at the hands of this law and they had “developed a flicker of hope but this incident killed it”.
He demanded the prime minister provide protection to the minorities until the blasphemy law is amended. He suggested that FIRs on blasphemy cases should not be filed at the SSP SHO level as they have a tendency of getting influenced by the local community. It should be filed only after a hearing of the DIG or the high court, he added.
Meanwhile, members of the Sikh community feel relatively safer mainly because they agree with the law. “No Sikh representative has ever faced any depressing incident in the country so our people are not that worried,” a community representative told The Express Tribune.
He added, however, that they also object to misuse of the law and suggested that the government form a council, comprising of members from all religious minorities. He agreed that the offender should be punished but no one should exploit the law.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2011.