We are our biggest enemies. This is something many fail to see because they believe external forces are to blame for Pakistan’s problems but the recent filing of a first information report (FIR) in Multan against members of a banned outfit formerly known as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan might convince some of those people otherwise. Members of the group, with permission from the district administration and police, held a religious meeting in which they labelled Shias ‘infidels’ and exhorted that imambargahs should be attacked.
It is unclear why this meeting promoting ill-informed propaganda was granted permission to be held in the first place. The authorities perhaps should have been more careful about who was holding the meeting and for what purpose. In addition, the meeting lasted for over four hours. Due to the sensitive nature of a meeting held by this banned outfit, authorities should have been present to terminate the gathering in case hate propaganda was discussed — rather than allowing it to last for four hours. Nonetheless, it must be commended that an FIR was filed against the leaders of the group and that the police recognised the criminality in the purpose of the meeting.
It is unfortunate that these are our own fellow citizens brainwashing and spreading hate amongst the masses. That is why we are sometimes our own enemies. The accused must be apprehended. Police forces need to become more vigilant. Antiterrorism forces also need to begin more stringent crackdowns on this ‘local terrorism’ that is spreading hate campaigns. In this particular case, the campaign reached over 1,000 people and is at risk of growing as these people could pass their brainwashed beliefs onto their families and acquaintances. Hate speech must be halted now. It must be treated with stricter evaluation and must result in harsh consequences for those convicted of the treacherous crime.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013.