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HOMES are burned, religious paraphernalia destroyed, residents terrorised, a country’s already tattered reputation for looking after its own further damaged. And the Punjab government just stood by and let it all happen in the provincial capital of the country’s largest, richest, most powerful province. If that was not staggering enough, early reports suggest that it was the police that told the Christian residents of the small neighbourhood in Badami Bagh to evacuate because they feared an attack — the night before it actually occurred. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has belatedly swung into action, suspending police officials, promising immediate relief to the victims of the mob and making all the usual noises. But there’s a more important fact here, and it may give an indication of what will come next: as also highlighted by the media in the wake of the Badami Bagh attack, no one has been held to account for the devastation wrought on another Christian community in Punjab several years ago, in Shantinagar. The past, in incidents such as these, will almost surely be repeated in the present, particularly with electoral considerations dominating political thinking at the moment.

Also sobering is the growing track record of the PML-N when it comes to mob violence against Christians during the party’s watch: Shanti-nagar, Gojra and now Badami Bagh. For mob violence to break out in Lahore in this day and age, when the provincial government is touting metro buses and laptop schemes and ‘futuristic’ solutions to the province’s myriad problems, is a measure of perhaps just how misplaced the PML-N’s priorities are. Of course, the PML-N will point to this being a national malaise and the fact that Dadu district in Sindh recently saw a man burned to death by a mob after he was accused of blasphemy underlines the reality that it is not just a ‘Punjab’ problem.

All of that would only obfuscate the mishandling of the latest situation. When in Lahore recently another Christian community was besieged by right-wing activists celebrating the conversion of a Hindu boy, the Punjab government used a combination of local political and police influence to defuse the situation and bring an end to the provocative demonstrations. What was the Punjab government doing overnight after the blasphemy charged had been raised and tensions spiralled? The chief minister, known to be a micro manager, needs to explain why his administration was so passive. Complicity or incompetence, it’s a question being raised distressingly often of Pakistan’s institutions.

Comments (28) Closed

Qureshi Mar 11, 2013 07:25am
What a country, ignorant, wild everyone hates Pakistanis even your arab brothers. Anyone who nukes it will be doing a great favour. Even in the Middle East, people hate pakistanis
sri1ram Mar 11, 2013 09:31am
This is not "hate of Pakistanis", I would venture that most of the common Pakistanis are as gracious and liberal as any other in the sub-continent. Instead of stereotyping all of them, we just need to learn to accept that this is just the result of misguided policies of the establishment and that Pakistani people are becoming the foremost victims of those knee-jerk policies like strategic depth. An Indian
rana1 Mar 12, 2013 03:23am
pakistanis should move to planet mars and leave the earth for sobber people
bijli Mar 12, 2013 06:47am
If there were a Jinnah for Christians, he would be asking for a separate homeland for Christians - a place where they can pursue their religion and not be considered second class citizens, and the current leaders of Pakistan would try in vain to placate him by saying everybody has equal rights in this land of pure, and that there was no need for a second nation. Oh, wait - this is history repeating itself. maybe this wont work?
Gerry D'Cunha Mar 11, 2013 08:29am
the world should declare pakistan a fail state - put strict sanction on pakistan and ban from meeting any govt dignitaries from pakistan, unless they honour their minorities life and properities in pakistan
K G Surendran Mar 11, 2013 08:29am
Pakistan needs to urgently change its public discourse otherwise events like these will keep repeating themselves with sickening regularity as it has a large population with dangerously low levels of literacy and it becomes natural for people to vent their anger when their condition is what it is and the future provides no hope.
rana1 Mar 12, 2013 03:26am
someone please tell Ahmedinejad to rethink his decision to share trade relations with pakistan.
rana1 Mar 12, 2013 03:21am
well said
rana1 Mar 12, 2013 03:20am
from what i can understand what Rahim meant was that if pakistan cannot defend their own citizens who are a targeted minority,then they can do hijrat(migrate).If australia is inviting Hazara Shias then some western country too can help their christian brethren move to a safe place.See how many Ahmaddiya had to move because the government of pakistan cannot provide security.The truth is that the blasphemy law wether mooted out cannot help at all as the mind set of the majority is ignorant.These ignorant people to vent their frustrations hurt the vulnerable ones.The jahils need to get educated in their religion
Dr. D. Prithipaul Mar 11, 2013 04:43pm
There is no need to express indignation over the attack on the Christians. That incident is just an expression of normality in the theocratic state. Your indignation is actually an approving disguise for the double layer of Muslim intolerance: (i) its traditional form rooted in the Orthodox teaching and in the history of the religion, and (ii) in the local Pakistani Sunni brand of intolerance. When the next time this folkloric act takes place, you could pull out from your file this article and rehash it in an up-to-date version for the next celebration of Islam when another minority group will feel the full force of the Believers' faith in action. It is assumed that your readers understand the hypocrisy of your lament and they know how to interpret it in the context of Pakistani history.
Md Imran Mar 11, 2013 04:28pm
From what i know from very reliable sources less than 10 houses were damaged,none injured. The media just made a big fuss about this non-issue to malign the name of Pakistan. It looks like the world is yet to grapple the fact that we still exist and exist as the sole islamic superpower. Such campaigns to spread hatred to besmirch the name of Pakistan won't stand.
AHA Mar 11, 2013 03:13pm
Excellent thoughts. We need open discussions on the strategic militant policy of Pakistan and on contextualizing the militancy in Islam.
Zafar Malik Mar 11, 2013 03:11pm
Criminal who attacked the christian neighborhood, should be booked under the blasphemy law for bringing disgrace to Islam. Did prophet of Islam every preach this kind of barbarianism? Also the media and educational institutions should educated people to be liberated from this kind of medieval and primitive mindset. Enough is enough, Pakistani masses should start living in the modern world now and give up the mentality of jungle.
Vijay Mar 11, 2013 03:06pm
How did the police know that there would be an attack the following morning? And you call it incompetence? IT'S COMPLICITY, pure and simple. Just as it was in the case of OBL. No matter how thick the sugar coating, shit still remains shit!
pathanoo Mar 11, 2013 05:38pm
Declaration will only affirm the truth known to the rest of the world that Pakistan IS already a failed state.
pathanoo Mar 11, 2013 05:36pm
That is why it is BANGLADESH.
Khalid Mar 11, 2013 02:51pm
The people responsible should be tried and given maximum sentences. These people are making every Pakistani ashamed of being a Pakistani. I am ashamed to be called a Pakistani. Ashamed to be called a Muslim and above all ashamed to be even a human being. When and who is going to arrest these people as they are not even humans.
afrem Mar 11, 2013 02:51pm
Where are the so called champions of the Blasphemy Law? Is this law applied only to protect Islamic beliefs? Aren't the minorities considered Pakistanis?
sachin Mar 12, 2013 05:27am
So ironical. Pakistan was created so that the minority of india can live in peace and without fear. Now, in the same Pakistan, minority live in fear. The whole 2 nation theory has terribly failed. On a positive note, As an indian, i am glad the 2 nation theory happened.
Laeeq, NY Mar 11, 2013 08:48pm
They are first out caste, then they perform the job that no one else will do and then they will be blamed for blasphemy to drive off from their homes. Punjab government always gave blind eye towards their murder and destruction of their properties and churches. Gogra incident is still fresh in recent history. Will muslims of Pakistan will ever learn how to live with minorities and at least respect them just for the sake of their religion.
Jack Mar 11, 2013 07:18pm
I am an Indian living in U.S., and feel sorry for the situation of common Pakistanis, who are in general great guys. I would any day have a Pakistani friend since culturally i have so much in common with Pakistanis. Just because of misuse of religion as a weapon by political parties and mullahs for last few decades, whole of the pakistan has to suffer. The madrassas have been preaching intolerance, and ultimately everybody will suffer.
Ralph McQuay Mar 11, 2013 07:15pm
Why are Christians still living in Pakistan? Well, because it is their country. Why are muslims living in Pakistan? Why don't muslims leave Indian sub-continent and find peaceful home somehwere in the world? BTW, birth right of all humna being is to live in peace without any threats and discrimination from other members of the society. Christians, Hindu, Sikh, Parsi are not threatening muslims of Pakistan; so, why is Muslims of Pakistan threatening minority sects of Pakistan?
Shankar Bandyopadhay Mar 11, 2013 11:02am
I will not be surprised even if other Muslim societies have learned to dread Pakistan. I dont think there is any comparison available among rest of humanity. If you guys can do this to your own people day in day out..I wonder what all you would have done in East Pakistan.
raika45 Mar 11, 2013 11:13am
I was under the impression that Punjabis on both sides of the border were pretty tolerant of other religions in spite of minor differences or assumed ones [like in this blasphemy unfounded case] Looks like I am wrong regarding Pakistan Punjabis.Imagine what difference religion can make.On one side Sikhs an Hindus the majority and the Muslims live in peace.On the other an overwhelming muslim majority creating havoc on the minority
Ralph McQuay Mar 11, 2013 06:57pm
Mr. Zardari, Mr. Malik, and People of Pakistan, We are greatly concerned about the safey and security of all minorities in Pakistan. You must improve safety, security, education, and econimic condition of minorities. Love, Shah Ruh Khan
dialogueforpeace Mar 11, 2013 02:41pm
When Sunni Talibans and their associated partners started killing Pakistanis indiscriminately, they said no Muslim could kill another Muslim. It did not stop Talibans killing fellow Muslims to date. Then Sunni extremists and their Taliban masters started genocide against Shias, they came out declaring that no kalma-go Muslim could kill another kalma-go Muslim. It did not stop Shia genocide in pakistan. Now when passionate Muslims ransacked and then burnt down 178 Christian houses and churches desecrating bibles and other sacrilegious documents in Lahore, they are now saying no Muslim could do such a thing such as desecrating a Bible. Keeping past record in mind, one can safely conclude that it will not going to stop Muslims making lives of their fellow minority Christian countrymen a living hell. It seems Muslims of Pakistan do with passion and enthusiasm what their religion forbids them from doing. And if someone kills Ahmedis or desecrates their places of worship or graveyard; they do not even bother to say anything at all. As if Ahmedis either do not exist or if they do, they are so insignificant and impure that they do not deserve to live in the land of pure. Among this mayhem of killing, genocide and ransacking comes a suo motu notice from CJ. One pertinent question that one should ask is that, will this so motu change the mullahs? understanding of blasphemy or will this suo motu repeal the infamous Blasphemy Law from statue book, which is the root cause of countless tragic incidents like what happened in Lahore on 9th March? Unfortunately, like his previous suo motu notices, answer to afore mentioned questions is an emphatic NO. On the contrary, this intervention from CJ would only create more confusion and obfuscation.
rahim Mar 11, 2013 03:31pm
Why are the Christians still living in Pakistan? When clearly there is a threat to life and property and the State is indifferent if not complicit in their threats, then the Christians should go to India or West or Australia where they can rebuild a life for their children if not themselves. Staying in Pakistan dooms their family to years of tears. I am aware nobody wants to hear this, but everybody should have the right to live and work in Peace and a state that cannot provide it or the people who do not want to let you have it should be left behind and you should seek greener pastures for your family. THAT IS A BIRTHRIGHT OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS.
cautious Mar 11, 2013 03:54pm
This tragedy isn't unique and has become the face of Pakistan. Just another reason why Pakistan is ranked lower than N Korea by the rest of the World.