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Rescue Pakistan From The Clutches Of Extremism

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Hidayat Nasar sheds light on the extremist politics of religious right and the power imbalance between the state authorities and the fanatic right wing violence, often leaving people to die in cold blood. 

Religious extremism and intolerance has spread widely in our society and especially among the new generation. Since the last two decades, things have gone from bad to worse. It seems like the government machinery has failed drastically to combat and deter the fanaticism. In fact it is a menacing situation. The country has seen various spells where innocent citizens, politicians, lawmakers and students were put to death by angry fanatics. 

Unfortunately, we live in a helpless state where a mob of angry men can decide your fate. The recently conducted human development report indicates that almost half the young people didn’t want to have friendly relations with people from other religions. The patchy record of religious extremism in our country speaks abhorrence and is shabby in its entirety. 

The slaying of Mashal Khan by a mob o n the premises of a university, over allegations of posting blasphemous content on social media is where the misuse of draconian blasphemy laws lead. Mashal Khan is not the only victim of religious fanaticism. In December 2019, last year, a 33 years young professor Junaid was handed over a death sentence for defiling the name of Prophet Muhammad. After the death sentence was announced the prosecution lawyers handed sweets, celebrating the decision as a religious triumph. This act was condemned by the human rights groups. 

The list is long and the story of everyone accused of wrong allegations is heart wrenching. The case of a college student in Bahawalpur, who stabbed his English professor to death. The student was angered by a farewell party that was organized by the professor, believing it was an un Islamic act as women would attend it. 

Why are we still unsuccessful in combating this curse? Despite having a National Action Plan (NAP) , the country has failed to eliminate extremism. Apparently NAP was designed with the consent of all political parties and the blessings of both civil and military leadership, to curb terrorism and militancy. The fact is that this utopianism is tampered by ground realities and the unwillingness of the people to accept the interfaith harmony and pluralism. Thus the course of Pakistan in this regard remains unrealized, insufficient and incomplete. 

The reports of inclusion of Ahmadis in Minority Commission, which were later denied,  generated a debate amongst the masses. It is well-known that Ahmadis are treated ruthlessly and no one has shown mercy to them since the inception of Pakistan. 

They were persecuted and killed in the 1953 Lahore riots and again in the 1974 riots. The main concern of the masses regarding this issue is that since Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim by the Constitution of Pakistan, how can they be allowed to preach their religion? And how can they be granted the right to participate in elections? 

This is indeed a dilemma for both the Ahmadis and especially those who question the religious power in the state, because they too can be the victims of threats and often murder. 

In gaining pelf, these contractors of Islam brand an intellectual – an‘ infidel’ – in no time. Pakistan is in a state of unrest as their views have become violent that ultimately leads to deception. 

The same mobs while sitting on the mosque podium, don’t get tired of preaching the lessons of brotherhood, but when it comes to indoctrination of masses, they stimulate irrationality and filth in their mind and make them inclined towards violence. 

Furthermore the state of deprivation has made the people vulnerable to the aggravation and militant tendency promoting religious extremism. Lack of education, awareness, sense of deprivation and acute poverty has paved the way for religious extremism. 

The people hailing from rural Baluchistan, and Sindh are easily molded by a priest towards violence because of the lack of awareness and education. This policy has radicalized the rural areas and is now swiftly expanding to the rural areas.  

Time certainly is right for initiating measures to rid Pakistan of religious extremism. People are highly fatigued of this curse. We therefore must embark on a comprehensive de-radicalization and mainstreaming programme, because our religion teaches us to do good and it encourages the subject of pluralism and interfaith harmony.

 

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