Technically, the police should be blind adherents to the rule of law, carrying out their duties without regard to outside pressure and prejudice. In reality, they end up reflecting the society from which they emerge. Nearly a week after a local Ahmadi leader was beaten up in Kasur, the police are refusing to arrest, or even register a case, against those responsible. They have even gone a step further and threatened Ahmadis with retaliatory registration of cases against them. This is sadly typical in Pakistan, where defenceless victims are made out to be the true threat and the aggressors are treated with kid gloves. From Shias in Quetta and Gilgit to Christians in Lahore, beleaguered minorities know that they are unlikely to get any respite from the state and its functionaries.
Recall how after the May 2010 attacks on two Ahmadi places of worship, which killed nearly 100 people, not a single politician had the courage to show up at their funerals. The police carried out only a perfunctory investigation, quickly blamed the attack on the Taliban and then washed their hands of the matter. The simple truth is that in Pakistan, the life of an Ahmadi simply does not hold the same weight as that of the majority population. This is hatred in its most pure and raw form.
The discrimination against Ahmadis does not just exist at the official level. Mobs are frequently riled up to attack Ahmadis, burn down their houses and seize their property. The motivations for this are a mixture of blind rage and more mercenary tendencies. Blasphemy cases against minorities are frequently spurred by a desire to take over a choice piece of land, essentially using religious passions to forward more worldly desires. The police either join in or stay away out of fear. The state does not have the backbone to assert itself against the mob. A stray condemnation or two is the best we can hope for. All the while, minority groups continue trying to get through the day wondering where the next attack will come from.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2013.
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