A Muslim mob descended on a sports equipment factory in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province on Friday, killing a Sri Lankan man and burning his body publicly over allegations of blasphemy. Scholars, intellectuals, think tanks, thinkers from the Government or private sector, or individuals, must think about the root cause and come up with solutions.
How much we may condemn the Sialkot incident, is not enough. Loss of human life is regretted. No justification, no arguments, no debates, because whatsoever we may say, the dead one will not be alive. Death is an irreversible action and no compensation may be accepted. We stand with the family of the victim and sympathize. PM Imran Khan has told that he will take strict actions and ensure the delivery of justice.
Addressing the root cause of incidents related to blasphemy
I believe it is due to extremism, and intolerance in society. We need to address it on rationales and logic and remove the root cause. We may differ on many issues as the beauty of diversity or democracy or freedom of expression, but, may not touch the national interests and common goals.
Iblis (Satan) openly refused to obey Allah’s orders to bow down to Adam, but, Allah has not punished him immediately, but gave him freedom till the Day of Judgment. Was not it possible for Allah Subhan-o-taala to punish him severely? But the objective was different, Allah gave him time to repent till the last day (Day of Judgement). We must learn from this incident and believing in Allah, must learn the lessons.
Being an old man born in the 1960s, I remember the early day of the 1970s, when society was more tolerant and harmonious. Pakistan was known as a paradise for Western Tourists, and people of all faiths, ethnic groups, or religious factions were living in harmony. There were many problems at that time too like poverty, economy, health, education, etc. But in respect of harmony and tolerance, a much better situation was prevailing. We were playing, schooling, and living with various minorities, factions, and sects in our childhood much more comfortably.
Looking at the excerpts from the history
Since the Afghan Jihad in the 1980s, Pakistan was radicalized and polarized by design. Religious extremism and intolerance were injected. Without naming any foreign hands, but, extremists and intolerance were promoted through all means. Foreign funding was flooded into Pakistan to promote hate and intolerance in society. The objective might be to defeat the USSR invasion, but the after-effects, we are suffering to date.
Some religious parties and individual scholars were awarded and provided liberal funding to promote hate and extremism, resulting to create an intolerant society. Many foreign indolence agencies were involved in similar activities. After forty years, still, foreign intelligence agencies are performing a similar role and damaging the unity and harmony in society. The ethnic, cultural, and religious divide has been promoted deliberately. It seems they have succeeded to damage Pakistan.
I do not want to blame the enemies only, because it is their aim and they will continue to do so. In fact, my criticism is with our own people. No doubt, our education system failed to make us good Muslims or good Pakistani, or good human beings. Our educational system has produced many good professionals like doctors, engineers, economists, physicians, chemists, and sportspersons. But, to be a good human being, a Good Muslim, and a Good Pakistani is even more important. Educational reforms and serious reforms are required urgently.
Religious scholars and leaders have more impact on society, they may come forward to play a positive role. A country with 97% Muslims, lacking the true spirit of Islam, tolerance, and really matter of grief concerns. Ulema, must think seriously and come up with a reasonable solution. Escape may not be desired. Blaming each other will not solve the issues, a practical strategy may be formulated, where scholars, intellectuals, thinkers, politicians, Government, and individuals may reinforce the struggle to eliminate intolerance and extremism. We must follow Islam in its true spirit.
Pakistanis are capable and resilient, if it clicks with them, we may overcome such issues on a permanent basis forever. Wish the whole nation to think and play a due role in building a strong and united to face the challenges posed by our enemies.
Our sympathies are with the victim and his family. PM Imran Khan has expressed the delivery of justice and the whole nation stand behind him. Sri Lanka is our time-tested, friend and understands the sensitivity of the issue, and is cooperating with the Government of Pakistan. Our relations may not suffer and our collaboration may keep growing.