Political recklessness and bizarre extremist ideologies are stifling the country’s distinct potential and vibrant spirit. News stories are constantly entrenched with reports of devastating incidents. This is not a reality Pakistan should become accustomed to tolerating. When will it all stop, or at least subside?
The bomb blast that took place at an imambargah in Shikarpur on January 30 is a case in point. Militants barged in and wreaked unimaginable havoc, killing dozens of people. Heinous crimes against Shias have become a regular fixture in Pakistan. The concept of security is non-existent since empty rhetoric always manages to supersede tactical policy adjustments. Members of the federal government dutifully condemn these attacks and express their solidarity with affected families. However, their condolences are devoid of any value if active measures are not being taken to prevent these endless acts of violence. Protestors belonging to Shia organisations and political parties are pleading for the immediate arrest of these attackers. One would hope that government officials finally decide to listen, eyes and ears wide open. However, their track record has proven to be a glaring disappointment. Sectarian violence will continue to spiral out of control if the government is incapable of apprehending the perpetrators of these terrorist attacks.
In addition to prevailing security lapses surrounding the hostile treatment of sectarian groups, one must stop and think about how there are people within our own communities who harbour bone-chilling extremist views and openly tout their support for terrorist activities. It was painful to learn that approximately 300 supporters recently crowded outside the Islamabad High Court as Mumtaz Qadri appealed against his death sentence. The brooding irony behind this state of affairs is that lawyers played an active role in the protest, loudly voicing their support for a convicted murderer. They all claim to be staunch supporters of Islam, but are actually a disgrace to the very idea of religion. It is difficult to reflect on the turn of events during Qadri’s appeal without feeling utterly helpless in the face of startling ignorance and cruelty.
Where can we possibly find a glimmer of hope? Think about the volunteers who formed a human chain to protect a funeral procession that took place after the blast at Shikarpur. A crowd of reportedly 10,000 people had assembled to pray for the victims. The volunteers were determined and fearless. On the day of the blast, hundreds of people nearby dug through the rubble to find survivors. Also think of Aitizaz Hasan, the 14-year-old boy who tackled a suicide bomber while trying to save his schoolmates. The bomber panicked and detonated his vest, killing both himself and our young hero. These are a few examples of the people who represent the best of Pakistan. These are the people who will keep inspiring us to stay strong.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2015.
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