Attack on Ahmadis

Published July 29, 2014
The police failed to come to the rescue of a community that is all too often persecuted. — Photo by AFP
The police failed to come to the rescue of a community that is all too often persecuted. — Photo by AFP

The latest attack on Ahmadis, in Gujranwala, came complete with the usual features. A group of people, angered by an alleged act of blasphemy, identified a few Ahmadi homes to vent their ire on.

Once again, reports say the police were unable to fathom the urgency of the situation; controlling religion-based mob violence is apparently not a subject they are well versed in. Or there may have been simply a lack of will to intervene.

Whatever the case, the police failed to come to the rescue of a community that is all too often persecuted. With this attitude, it is unsurprising that, apart from the police, no other administrative arm of government was there. Many houses were set on fire and at least three lives were lost because of suffocation.

The administrative approach to this latest incident of members of a minority community being targeted inspires little hope that the perpetrators of the violence will ever be held accountable. The standard response of the government and of society is to shrug off such instances, to take them in their stride — and without any signs of guilt.

This attitude in turn promotes a culture that not only condones but actually facilitates the next, inevitable faith-based attack. Not too long ago, a US-based Ahmadi doctor was murdered soon after he came to Rabwah to work in a hospital.

More recently, an Ahmadi man was murdered in Nawabshah in Sindh. This incident, along with a series of mob raids on temples in the same province, indicates the spread of the faith-based menace of intolerance to areas once considered free of such bigotry.

The hate network is spreading and striking with increasing frequency — unimpeded. Instances where there are some courageous calls for justice are getting rarer. Those who do speak out expose themselves to serious consequences.

Not even the judiciary, which prides itself on having taken up causes on its own in recent years, has been moved by the persecution of the minorities to traverse this difficult territory.

Consequently, the choices for those facing faith-based persecution is either to resign themselves to the situation — which means simply waiting for their turn — or try and flee the country. That is a sad reflection of today’s Pakistan.

Each one of us has contributed to this state of affairs, some with their silence, others, who are assigned the duty of protecting the citizens, with their inaction that encourages and empowers the zealots.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2014

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