Purification by fire

No Country For Minorities

Arsonists burned down a Hindu temple in Tando Mohammad Khan district last week. SSP Tando Mohammad Khan, Naseem Aara Panwhar responded to the incident with the type of compassion that we have come to expect from authorities.

“We had asked them not to keep these things in this manner and at least raise proper boundary walls. But they did not care,” she said.

You see, it was the fault of these stupid Hindus for keeping their holy artifacts in a manner that they could be seen instead of hidden away where they belong.

Perhaps Shama and Shehzad would have been better to have kept themselves hidden away, too. Their very existence as non-Muslims was so offensive that they were burnt alive, purifying our country of their Christian-ness.

Actually, the  went a little too far and put Pakistan in a bad light once the international media picked up the story. Something had to be done to fix this public relations problem, so now there is talk of “inter-faith committees” to deal with questions of religious intolerance. Such committees already exist, though. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in particular has been a leader in managing religious harmony with the blessings of the state.

What’s that, you say? It’s not the state’s fault they can’t find any evidence against Malik Ishaq? Perhaps, perhaps. But one can’t help but wonder, sometimes, how it is the state can never find any evidence against terrorists, but can always find plenty of evidence to convict non-Muslims. I am thinking of Asia Bibi’s death sentence, of course, but I am also thinking of Sawan Masih.

Last year, in Lahore, an enraged mob of thousands burned 160 houses, 18 shops, and two churches belonging to Christians in Joseph Colony. The police said that the man had been falsely accused but they were forced to register a case to placate the mob. Rana Sanaullah vowed to bring those responsible to justice. One year later, the Lahore High Court sentenced Sawan Masih to death for blasphemy. The attackers? The Court set them free.

Just like Hindus in Hyderabad are responsible for the burning of their own temple, it was Sawan Masih who was responsible for the burning of Christian churches. He made the deadly mistake of being openly Christian, and that cannot be tolerated in the Land of the Pure. Churches and temples are not burned by ‘arsonists’, but by purifiers.

Jinnah predicted that “in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus”. His dream was for a Pakistan where Hindus and Muslims lived together harmoniously. Reality has turned out somewhat different, however, and we should ask ourselves if we now live in a Pakistan where Hindus (and Christians, and Ahmedis, and Sufis, and Shia…) have ceased to be Pakistani.

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