If Army Chief is serious, First Dismantle Vast Jihadi Infrastructure

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Pakistan’s beleaguered religious minorities and ethnic sub nationalisms deserve a fair and just treatment at the hands of the Pakistani state. This will require widespread and long-lasting effort not just statements meant for the media or for propaganda.

Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir’s participation in Christmas Day celebrations at a Rawalpindi church sends the right message. Unfortunately, Gen Munir’s criticism of those “creating fissures using religious, ethnic and political vulnerabilities” ring hollow as it is the Pakistani army that is largely responsible for crafting the Islamist national identity of Pakistan that targets all minorities and ethnic sub-nationalisms and wants to create a purely Islamic country.

As an editorial in Dawn noted, “While the founding fathers, particularly the Quaid, were firm about the fact that minorities would be equal citizens of Pakistan, over the decades these commendable ideals have been ignored, with the result that a radicalised society today tolerates little religious and communal difference. Because extremism has struck deep roots in society, it will take time to promote tolerance.”

If General Munir is serious then he needs to punish those involved in acts of violence and in intimidating minorities, and also those hurling false blasphemy allegations. Moreover, the state should stop those spreading hate speech to publicly air their views.

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Author: Shaista Sindhu