The recent incident of vandalism at a predominantly Christian colony over an alleged blasphemy in Badami Bagh Lahore, startled all concerned quarters regarding possibility of reactive inter-faith clashes across the country. But fortunately, a truly prudent reaction was shown by the hapless Christian victims and their supporters, who restrained their anger simply to protest demonstrations.
Media reported that the violence was provoked when a Christian was accused of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and defiling pages from the holy Quran. The accused was subsequently arrested for further investigation, however, the outrageous mob attack on Christian colony a day after his arrest was considerably unreasonable. Here, some questions arise that why Christian community was attacked when the blasphemer was already being remanded? Who instigated the mob to burn houses and loot innocents, those who had nothing to do with this alleged case of blasphemy? Are the Pakistani Muslims radicalized to an extent that they would end up in such an irrational and revengeful act?
Such incidents of bigotry evidently bring bad name to Pakistan and eventually facilitate a false perception that Pakistan is not safe for religious minorities and other factions. The same narrative persisted when attacks on Hazara community in Quetta and Abbas Town in Karachi resulted in killing of dozens of Shias.
Targeted killing of minority factions, either Muslims or non Muslims, links to the same string of nefariousness. Many security experts and defence analysts connect these unprecedented attacks with recent handing over of Gwadar Port operation to China and initiation of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, despite strong opposition by the US. Experts believe that these attacks are orchestrated to discourage China and Iran from investing in a troubled country and exploit the increasing threat of Islamic extremism in Pakistan.
The tragic incident in Lahore soon after the bomb blasts in Quetta and Karachi are lucid evidence to intrigues of international hostile force, who desire to provoke inter-faith disharmony in order to destabilize Pakistan on ideological grounds. Likewise, dedicated propaganda campaigns are launched abroad with the same pace to label Pakistani Muslims as radical, narrow-minded and violent extremists.
Contrary to the prevailing perception of an “unsafe Pakistan”, all segments of the Pakistani society including religio-polical parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamaat ud Dawah, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith etc categorically condemned the act of barbarism against Christian community and termed it extremely unwarranted.
This reflects Pakistan’s unanimous stance regarding the protection of minority citizens, while, the timely compensation and relief provided by the provincial government has already started reducing the grievance of Christian victims in Lahore. Such well-timed measures taken by the authorities truly speak of the value and respect being given to the minorities in Pakistan. In addition, every effort is being made for the protection of rights of minority citizens whereby they are free to practice their respective religions.
Pakistan state officially celebrates 10 religious festivals of minorities, including Besakhi, Diwali, Holi, Eid-e-Rizwan, Chilim Juhst, Nauroze, Christmas and Easter. Besides celebrating these festivals, adequate security measures are taken at all worship places to ensure safety of the minorities. The Ministry of Interfaith Harmony has also launched a national campaign to promote interfaith harmony and national unity in the society.
Considering all these facts, Pakistani Muslims must continue to express complete solidarity with the affected Christian families, while scholars of all religions in Pakistan should to spread the message of love and brotherhood for promotion of peace and stability in the country. Ulema-e-Islam must also play their role for creating awareness about the minorities’ rights and importance of tolerance in the Islamic society. Moreover, perpetrators of the outrageous attack against Christians should be arrested and given exemplary punishment according to the law.