Christian Killings Clarify Pakistan’s Political Divide

The locality of Gojra witnessed the burning of innocent Christians, who were fatally scorched over the alleged pretext of having desecrated the Holy Quran.  Firstly, what right does anyone have to take the law into one’s own hands and commit such atrocities? Has Islam taught us to carry out such barbaric crimes? Is this how we protect the rights of our minorities?  Is this what our Quaid envisioned for Pakistan? Is this why we have the white vertical strip in our flag?

Regardless of whether the claims of desecrating the Holy Quran are true or not, we have no right to be righteous. That authority lies solely vested in the Supreme Being. When God has given us life, who are we to take it away?  It is utterly shameful that these so called Muslims have even killed innocent Christians in the name of Islam and the Holy Quran.

Furthermore, it is rather shameful how the Punjab government has manipulated the unfortunate incident at Gojra and turned it into a political debate. Playing the blame game seems to have become a favorite pastime of our Punjabi politicians.  The Punjab government is looking to shift the responsibility of failure to control the riots in Gojra onto various other political parties and ministries rather than its own departments.  Instead of quelling the unrest that has been seen in Gojra, the Punjab government run by the President of the PML (N) Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has passed a resolution “condemning” the violence in Gojra.  Will such a resolution bring back the lives and homes that were burnt?

I fail to understand how the passage of a condemnation resolution would be able to reconstruct the burnt houses or take away the pain caused to so many innocent lives.  The greatest step that has been taken by the Punjab government is the registration of an FIR against DCO (administration) and the DPO (police).  It should be added here that the FIR was only registered after “more than 800 protesters had taken away the bodies of seven persons from the hospital that were killed on Saturday and put them on the railway track”.  Have we become so disgraceful where we care more for our political ambitions than the value of human life?  Did the Punjab government really have to first witness seven dead bodies on train tracks before registering an FIR against its administration?  And even if provincial government did manage to register an FIR against the DCO and the DPO, why was it necessary that their names not be mentioned in the report? Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the town of Gojra ten days after the riots, only after his own personal security was ensured.  Does the Chief Ministers safety come before his citizens?

It was due to the lack of control and authority shown on behalf of the Punjab government which is why the Federal government, especially President Asif Zardari had to step in and take matters into their own hands.  Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had to personally call Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and give him direct instructions on how to deal with the situation while President Asif Zardari, sent the Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti to the area to persuade Christians to end their protest, as the government was taking due action.  Along with sending the Minorities Affairs Minister, the President also ordered the Punjab Rangers to enter the town of Gojra in order to make sure peace is sustained and further riots do not arise.

The quick action taken by the Federal government in preventing further unrest within Gojra has exposed not only the lack of authority but also the lack of respect for human lives the Punjab government has shown for its citizens.  Investigating the inaptitude government of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Washington Post articulates: “the provincial government [of Punjab] is not accepting that a large part of Punjab is suffering from religious intolerance due to the Taliban and religious outfits.  They have been very negligent.  This conflict was brewing for three days, and they were not receptive.  They were not taking it seriously.”

It is highly embarrassing to see how a foreign newspaper is scolding the Punjab government for its failure in protecting the rights of its Christian population.  Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif needs to be more attentive to the special needs his community requires.  This promise of looking after and respecting the minority population of Pakistan was a pledge Jinnah made to Pakistan and must be carried out at all costs by those who have been elected into office.

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