Suicidal Silence

silenceProtests are breaking out over killing of Muslims in Myanmar, not just on social media but on the streets. International human rights groups like Amnesty International are taking notice, and even the United Nations has sent an envoy to investigate. Meanwhile, another group of Muslims is being systematically slaughtered, and their plight is being met with silence. I am speaking, obviously, of Pakistani Muslims killed by none other than other Pakistani Muslims.

The most obvious case are the ongoing attacks against Shia. Newspapers in Pakistan carry headlines that read ‘Burmese Muslim losing hope’ and also ‘Hope fades away for Hazaras of Pakistan’. But you will find no protest marches here. Instead, you will find Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq sitting on a stage next to Hamid Gul and Hafiz Saeed spreading messages of militancy and intolerance.

It is not just militants, though, who are preaching these messages. Our electronic media too is a teaching these lessons to the point that none other than al Arabiya is asking ‘is Pakistan’s TV evangelism sprouting a dangerous creed of intolerance’? Even the national heroes among us are erased from history if their personal religious beliefs do not conform to someone else’s standard.

Yesterday, media reported a pair of journalists were beaten for having soft drinks in their car during daytime. According to the reports, the policemen accused them of committing sin by not fasting during Ramazan.

Since when did we have religious police to enforce Sharia? Actually, we don’t. What we have are self-appointed religious police. They aren’t ghazis, they are narcissistic psychopaths whose murderous rampages are given sanction by a public that is too scared, too apathetic, or too complicit. How else does a guard turn his gun on his own ward only to find himself showered with petals by the very people who claim to be guardians of rule of law?

Supreme Court Advocate Feisal Naqvi warns that we are slipping down a dangerous slope, where atrocities are committed, and nobody cares.

We are headed for a stage where even the people who attend fashion shows and rock concerts are becoming increasingly comfortable with the fact that it is okay to kill people either for being non-Muslim or for being the wrong sort of Muslim.

Think I’m wrong? If so, think again. In the last six months alone, we have seen multiple incidents in which people have been killed, in the most brutal of ways, for belonging to the wrong religion or the wrong sect. The one act of terror I have been unable to wipe out from my memory is that of the Balochi Shia pilgrims on their way to Iran. Their bus was stopped at a deserted spot and each of the Shias was then shot at close range and their bodies heaved out of the bus like so many sacks of grain. Of course, we know all of this because one of the murdering bastards used his cellphone to record the massacre and then uploaded the video on YouTube.

And yet, where is the outrage?

Outrage is there, but it is pointed outward. We are outraged by human rights violations in other countries, but not our own. We support ‘self defense’ for occupied people, but we are unwilling to defend ourselves against the occupation of extremism. We brave the hot sun to march against ‘hidden hands’, but we don’t lift a finger against the grip of intolerance that is strangling our culture and society. In our silence, we are dying by our own hand.

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