It is near impossible to comprehend the level of hatred that rules the minds of people who are terrorising Pakistan today.
They will kill Shias, be they children, women or men, simply because they hate minorities and consider them worthy of death. Ahmadis too are being attacked with increasing frequency by extremists who claim to hold the moral high ground but are seen as terrorists by all right-thinking people. Take Friday's carnage in Quetta where nearly 60 were killed by a suicide bomber. A procession was taken out to condemn Israeli atrocities and mark Al Quds day, a cause that ought to be common to Muslims of all schools of thought. But it was still fair game for sectarian terrorists because the Shia community has, in the Iranian tradition, always been in the forefront of commemorating this particular occasion. Two days earlier, the streets of Lahore were awash with blood when suicide bombers attacked a Youm-i-Ali congregation. Responsibility in both cases was claimed by groups that like to portray themselves as champions of Islam but have no qualms about massacring practising Muslims in Lahore, Quetta, Karachi and elsewhere.
The Balochistan government's decision to ban religious processions provides no answers to this growing security threat. One, members of every religious denomination have every right to organise rallies and express their core values. The same principle applies to activists of a political or secular bent. That is a fundamental right and it cannot be suppressed under any circumstances. Two, such measures send a message that the terrorists who are holding Pakistan hostage in these testing times are winning the battle. What we need is the complete opposite. Do your worst. We will still be resilient and ultimately crush you and your bar-baric code of conduct.
Still, it must be remembered that these are not normal times. Mutual cooperation is of the essence if lives are to be protected and the aims thwarted of terrorists who wish to ignite sectarian strife in the country. In Quetta it had been agreed upon that the Al Quds day rally would terminate at a designated spot to ensure security. Yet the protesters chose to advance to Meezan Chowk which was not part of the original route. And that is precisely where the suicide bomber attacked the procession, killing and maiming so many people. Tempers may be running high but it must be acknowledged that more bloodshed can be prevented only through increased cooperation between the administration and community leaders. Communal strife is what the militants want and they cannot be allowed to achieve their goal.