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IT is obvious what fuelled Monday’s demand in the National Assembly for the formulation of a law aimed at preventing attacks on minorities. Public reaction over the shameful acts of arson in Lahore’s Badami Bagh on Saturday — that followed the Quetta and Karachi blasts targeting the Shia community — has been fittingly strong. It has finally become obvious to all that such violence is not only spreading, its intensity too is increasing. While it may be argued that laws regarding transgressions such as arson, looting and harassment — all of which can be applied to the Badami Bagh tragedy — are already in place, it is also true that targeted laws criminalising specific practices and protecting specific groups have their value. This is evident, for example, in the body of laws that countries continue to develop to protect vulnerable groups such as women and children.

What is difficult to make out, though, is what the new law demanded by our parliamentarians might be expected to achieve in actual terms given the ground realities. The neglect of minorities’ rights has been an issue for decades. The demand for installing a new legislative framework has come at a time when there is less than a week to go before the assemblies are dissolved thus making the proposal appear as a sop to the public, especially with general elections on the horizon. However, more pertinent than this is the cravenness of the political and administrative elite whenever the issue of the misuse of the blasphemy laws or the persecution of minorities has come up. At every juncture, they have caved in before the hard-line right. Consider merely the way Monday’s demand in the Assembly was worded: “[…] carry out necessary legislation, if so desired, to prevent such unfortunate incidents in the future”. This hesitant request encapsulates the problem: protecting minorities means standing up to those who persecute them — but sadly, too few are willing to take that bullet in the chest.

Comments (8) Closed

Agha Ata (USA) Mar 13, 2013 01:07pm
"... what will it achieve?" It will transfer the burden on someone else. Perhaps on the police, administration, or the judiciary.
Ron Fonseca Mar 13, 2013 09:56am
The best thing Pakistan and bangladesh can do is to send all non-Muslims to India and take in all Muslims from India and settle them in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Pre-1971 Pakistan was meant to be the dreamland for Muslims and India was meant to be a secular and non-Muslim country.
Khanm Mar 13, 2013 11:22am
our political leaders can only bite the bulletts as long as it is made out of silver and gold.are they willing to take that bullet in the chest. they are not Liquat Ali Khan
Deendayal M.Lulla Mar 13, 2013 12:43pm
Are Sindhis living in Pakistan a minority community? I am talking of Sindhi Hindus,and Sindhi Muslims,and Sindhi Christians. Who among these three are in minority? Are they safe in Pakistan?
G.A. Mar 13, 2013 09:21pm
It will be as effective as traffic rules are in Pakistan.
Sue Sturgess Mar 14, 2013 01:23am
What about laws to prevent attacks on EVERYONE!
Sue Sturgess Mar 14, 2013 01:27am
How will this stop the attacks between Sunni & Shia or other muslim sects? What of families that are a mixture of muslim and non-muslim? The best thing Pakistan can do is to practice tolerance. Mar 14, 2013 08:56am

I agree with you 100%. While minorities are being massacrred in Pak & bangladesh, they are committing crimes, getting subsidies, reservations and still not able to make progress in India. The partition should be brought to its logical end.