minorities, opinion, tolerance

Peshawar Church Attack: Is it impossible to co-exist?

Late on a Sunday morning, as people came out of a church in Kohati Gate, Peshawar, twin blasts sent more than 50 of those much closer to the God they had been intently praying to – the same God who created us all with different identities, ethnicities and religion but as part of the same humankind.

Yet, the humankind attacks each other for being different, that too in the name of a religion. What is being forgotten here is that each one of these is not an effort to bring people under one religion or sect but a strike on the order of nature, whose principle is to produce different people not the same. And today a question haunts me that can we not coexist as different people in Pakistan?

According to a report of US Commission on International Religious Freedom released on September 14, 2011 Pakistan has been deemed one of the 10 countries unable to protect minorities. And a timeline of attacks on Christians in the country during the past decade published
in the March 15, 2013 issue of The News (http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-165422-Minorities-including-Christians-at-receiving-end-in-Pakistan) is a testimony to the fact that minorities are in the line of fire.

Though, any figures on record are just the tip of the iceberg that is called suppression of minorities in Pakistan.  In a slight moment of delusion, religious discrimination may even make sense but Muslims belonging to a different sect also have no respite from gunfire and suicide bombs. According to the Datasheet of South Asia Terrorism Portal, 4,616 people have been killed while 9,008 have been wounded in 2,824 incidents of sectarian violence from 1989 till September 15, 2013.

What exactly are we trying to achieve here by attacking those different from us? Be it the Ahmadis or Shias, Christians or Hindus, in the history after Independence no one has been relieved so far – but for what? Is it some Islamic values that are being upheld by doing this? Of course not; because no religion is preached by bombs and guns.

In this situation, to say that we are against one group of people would be incorrect because there isn’t any one kind of group being attacked. Rather, this is a chaos – a chaos that began to breed in our mentality, came out on the streets and has now made impossible for different kinds of people to survive in each other’s presence. A small period of time may be insufficient to battle terrorism or violence on the ground but it will reap great fruits to begin fading demarcations of religion, sect, caste and creed in our mind so that no one growing up today and going out in the country tomorrow conceives a brutal thought for anyone different from him.