There are many Mumtaz Qadris in this country and we will support them.” Chilling but true words. There are indeed many more Mumtaz Qadris in Pakistan who are willing to kill anyone and everyone who has merely been accused of committing blasphemy and/or supporting an alleged blasphemer. These threatening words were spoken by none other than a lawyer representing those who have accused Rimsha Masih, a minor Christian girl with Down’s syndrome, of committing blasphemy. Who in their right mind would accuse a minor girl with a disability of committing a crime? As the lawyer reminded us, there is no dearth of fanatics in our country. For a change, Pakistan’s Islamic leaders have come out in support of a blasphemy accused. “The chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council warned that the ‘law of the jungle’ was gripping Pakistan, with police routinely pressured by baying mobs to register blasphemy charges… Among the other unlikely Islamist groups rallying round Rimsha is Khatm-e-Nubuwwat, which has been accused of being behind violence against another minority, the Ahmadis,” (‘Pakistan Muslim leaders support Christian girl accused of blasphemy’ by Saeed Shah, The Guardian, August 27, 2012). Rimsha’s bail hearing was adjourned yesterday.
It is no secret that the draconian blasphemy laws are widely misused but after the assassinations of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti last year, not many in the corridors of power are willing to risk their lives by asking for amending or repealing these laws. They are all gripped by fear. The question is: what about the fear of those falsely accused of blasphemy? The state must not shun its responsibility when it comes to the protection of its citizens. The state’s lack of response (and its will to respond) to the activities of fanatics has turned Pakistan into a lawless state.
Just yesterday a Shia judge was killed along with his police bodyguard and driver in Quetta. Every day we hear of Shias being massacred. Genocide is being committed right before our eyes but all we do is sit and watch. Pakistan’s SC wants to wage a war against obscenity but will turn a blind eye to the real obscenity, i.e. mass murders. Pakistan’s military has lost thousands of soldiers at the hands of terrorists but it is still adamant on playing the ‘Good Taliban/Bad Taliban’ card. Pakistan’s politicians are afraid to touch the Islamic laws lest they be accused of being anti-Islam. ‘Secularism’ is considered to be a bad word. If someone is progressive or liberal, he/she is accused of being a ‘foreign agent’ and/or ‘westerner’. How did this come to pass?
If we take a look around us, we will see disgruntled elders, a confused generation and disillusioned youth. Our older generation thinks they have failed us. Our own generation is either angry or confused, or both. Our new generation is not just apolitical but also disillusioned. Such is the tragedy of our times. The real responsibility lies with our rulers, especially the military. Decades-long nurturing of religious zealots by the military for its own warped policies is the reason why fanatics have gained in strength and numbers. Now they are everywhere.
Should we sit silently in a corner and pretend that nothing bad is happening in our country or should we stand up and tell the truth? We may be small in numbers but the least we can do is be on the right side of history. We must save our humanity. This is something worth fighting for.
The writer is a Pakistani journalist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org