Plunge into Darkness: Reflections on Religious Intolerance in Pakistan

- Pakistan - August 17, 2023

Plunge into Darkness: Reflections on Religious Intolerance in Pakistan

Introduction

The recent wave of attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan has brought to light a disturbing reality: the security of citizens in their everyday lives is compromised due to their identities. As incidents like the vandalization of multiple churches in Jaranwala and the arson of homes belonging to the Christian community unfold, we are faced with a haunting question: how did we, as a nation, reach a point where the vulnerable among us are the most susceptible to targeting? This article delves into the disheartening trend of religious intolerance in Pakistan, shedding light on the challenges that minority communities face and the urgent need for substantial change.

The Cycle of Targeting Vulnerable Communities

The recent attack on the Christian community in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, underscores a troubling pattern of violence against religious minorities. Christians, Shias, and women of minority faiths are often subjected to targeted violence, resulting in a perpetual cycle of fear and insecurity. This narrative of identity-based discrimination is starkly at odds with Pakistan’s aspiration for harmony and unity among its citizens.

Erosion of Safety: A Struggle for Religious Minorities

Pakistan’s religious minorities, including the Christian community, have long experienced social, economic, and religious discrimination. Despite their patriotic dedication to the nation, they often live on the margins, enduring a life of constant vigilance and apprehension. The Jaranwala incident serves as a grim reminder of the urgency to address the deteriorating state of religious tolerance.

A Plea for Swift and Effective Action

The response to incidents like the Jaranwala attack demands more than mere statements of condemnation from political leaders. While official condemnation and promises of stern action are made, the recurrence of such incidents reveals the insufficiency of these responses. Urgent and tangible actions are required to disrupt the cycle of violence and uphold the dignity and safety of every citizen.

Forgotten Pasts, Uncertain Futures

The repetition of attacks against religious minorities in Pakistan, such as the Gojra incident, the Peshawar church attack, and the Easter bombing in Lahore, underscores the nation’s failure to learn from its past. The repetition of these atrocities raises questions about the state’s commitment to protecting its vulnerable communities. Forgotten incidents perpetuate a cycle of silence and inaction, deepening the sense of insecurity among minority groups.

Religion Weaponized: A Call for Reflection

The tragic events in Jaranwala occur in the wake of a controversial film being placed on YouTube due to authorities deeming its subject taboo—religion being weaponized. This sheds light on the urgent need for a reassessment of how we define terrorism. Acts like the attack on Jaranwala’s Christian community exemplify terror inflicted through violence fueled by bigotry, and they expose the urgent need for robust counterterrorism strategies.

Redefining National Action

Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) was designed to comprehensively combat extremism and its underlying ideologies. However, the plan’s effectiveness has been limited by its failure to address the ideology that fuels religious violence. To truly confront extremism, it is imperative to address the hate-filled rhetoric and discriminatory practices that continue to persist within the country.

Conclusion

The repeated incidents of violence against religious minorities in Pakistan challenge the nation’s commitment to inclusivity, unity, and justice. The Jaranwala attack is a stark reminder that empty promises and platitudes of condemnation are no longer sufficient. The time has come for Pakistan to redefine its priorities and values, ensuring the protection and security of every citizen, regardless of their identity. A nation’s strength lies in its ability to embrace diversity and uphold the principles of equality, justice, and compassion.