Yet another staggering loss for Pakistan, Minister Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination is further proof of the brazen confidence with which extremists kill our leaders. The assassination of the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, should have awakened us to the fact that we are now fighting for our country. The brutal killing of Minister Bhatti must remind us that we can never go back to sleep.
“This is the horrible fate of this cursed person,” read the leaflet the murders left on the scene. Exactly what was his crime, one wonders bitterly. Was it that he was a Christian? Was it that he worked tirelessly to protect the minorities of our homeland? Was it that he devoted his career to honoring the white stripe on our flag? Yes to all the above.
In these bleak times, I am reminded of a hadith my mother would often quote.
“If you see evil, you must try to stop it by your hands; if you cannot do that, then at least speak out against it; and if you cannot do that, then at the very least do not accept it in your heart – but that is the weakest position for a person of faith.”
The cold-blooded murders of brave leaders who struggle to protect the innocent – what is that if not pure evil? Will we allow these monsters to win? Will we doom our Christians, Shias, Ahmadis to death? I write this while listening to a Pakistani newscast as it analyzes various conspiracy theories on the Raymond Davis issue. I want to scream, “STOP! A minister has been shot dead outside his mother’s home! Let’s talk about that for a little while! Let’s tackle the issues that aren’t as convenient as America-bashing. Let’s talk about our own people who are now terrified to go out. Let’s talk about the parents too scared to send their children to school, because they are minorities. Let’s stop accusing of politicians of corruption, for just one day, and honor our politicians who led with pure hearts and are gone. Let us mourn Minister Bhatti!”
As Pakistan grows increasingly dark and dangerous, we must stop and make tough personal decisions. Do we want to see Jinnah’s Pakistan replaced with Zia’s Pakistan? Will we be brave enough to speak out?
If you are Muslim, and if your Islam is a religion of peace, then speak out. Do it for a tolerant society, one where people do not have to fear going outside their homes. Do it for the idea that all people are created equal by a just, merciful God. Do it for the simple reason that inaction means Pakistan is lost.