Religious intolerance in Pakistan past its boiling point

By Arpit Gupta
As the news of Mumtaz Qadri’s execution spread in the dawn of Monday, the social networking sites are again alive with the views of supporters and criticizers of this execution. Due to the reaction of religious Muslim fundamentalists on the execution, the matter of religious intolerance in Pakistan is again on the top of the trending topics of debate.
The reason why this execution has brought the matter of intolerance in the spotlight is, that Mumtaz Qadri has been executed for killing Salman Taseer who was the governor of the state of Punjab in Pakistan and the supporter of the amendment in Blasphemy law. Salman Taseer also supported Asia Bibi, a Christian who was accused of insulting prophet Mohammad and was sentenced to death for this. Taseer’s assassination by his own bodyguard Mumtaz had once again proved the extent of religious intolerance in the country and after 5 years of this issue, the condition has not improved but has worsened.

The blasphemy law has been in the news many times in the past. Actually, this law was made to ban the insult directed against any religion in 1927 during colonial rule. But the so-called “Father of Intolerance and Sectarianism”, Zia-Ul-Haq amended it in 1986 to protect only Islam prophet during his dictatorship in Pakistan.

Since then, this law has been hazardous for many people who were accused of insulting Prophet Mohammad. One more politician, minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed in march 2011 just because he mentioned the need to debate about the law.

Pakistan, the only country in the world which was created on the basis of religion, at the time of its creation, announced that all citizens will be equal and every religious belief will be respected in the country. This announcement was proudly done by “Father of Pakistan”, Mohammad Ali Jinnah but religious tolerance was buried after his demise.

Today, there is no space for religious tolerance in Pakistan’s national and social polity. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also highlighted the extent of intolerance in the country, asserting that Pakistan is becoming a more and more dangerous country for religious minorities and increasingly intolerant of dissent.
Not only Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs are being assaulted and socially and economically discriminated in the nation but some Muslim communities like Ahmadis are also facing harassment. After every interval of few weeks, we hear a news of sectarian violence in  Pakistan. The most disappointing fact is that these shameful acts take place in connivance with the local police. The condition has been so critical that religious minorities of Pakistan are ready to become refugees in other countries rather than living in their country.

The death of Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and the decisions of courts in thes cases relating to the insult of Islam has clarified the ideas in the minds of Pakistan’s religious activists and it has shown that Pakistan is buckling under Intolerance and extremism from many years.

Since Pakistan is a politically unstable country without solid democratic roots, has a weak economic base as well as vulnerable to army rules, Sectarianism, fundamentalism and religious Intolerance are going to have the permanent place in country’s social, religious and political polity.

Arpit Gupta is an engineering student at IIT Roorkee.