The news of the terrorist attack on the Christian community left me depressed and shattered. I have no words to express my condemnation any more. I am tired and losing hope. I write this blog today in an attempt to bring forth a point of view for the masses to just think about. Just think and nothing else. Disagreeing and having a different point of view is the beauty of the system of democracy that we live in. So I do not expect my readers to clap and nod their heads. I just want them to take a step back and think.
Why am I so surprised at the brutality of this incident? Why are we all so shocked? Why are extremism, radicalization and violence so embedded in our society right now? I refute the notion that such incidents or acts of violence are isolated actions of a group having no nexus with the prevalent socio-legal structures and discourse. There are certain factors, present amongst the masses and our State structures that are supporting the acts of these barbarians or at least giving some legitimacy to it.
In my view, the starting point is the conflict inherent in our national identity. Who are we? Are we Pakistanis or are we Muslims? Are we Pathan, Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch, Gilgiti, Balti etc or are we just Pakistanis? Are we Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Atheists, Parsis etc or are we just Muslims? The retrogressive measures on the part of previous dictatorial governments to impute a singular and uniform identity on the masses has crippled and crushed the very essence of diversity and pluralism in Pakistan, we are gradually losing spaces for people who are ‘different’ than our nation’s dominant identity of “Muslims”. Such measures are not only present and visible on a social level but have also been enshrined in the very Constitution of our State which imputes a religious ideology on the State and ultimately the masses. Our Constitution also creates the ultimate divide between the citizenry as “Muslims” and “non-Muslims” where the rights of the “Muslim Pakistanis” are manifold, the rights of the “non-Muslim Pakistanis” are inherently discriminated upon. We live in a country where a citizen’s rights in this State are meted upon based on their religious affiliations. So I ask again, why are we so shocked at this incident?
The extremists and terrorists have become a punching bag for us all to punch every time a bomb goes off. Have we ever peeked into our social norms, our laws and our Constitution and identified the extremist measures inside our own State structures? We follow the ideology, the discourse and the agenda of the extremists by constantly calling our national identity as that of Muslims only. We define our borders not in terms of geography but in terms of ideology. We view our State as a stronghold for unity of Muslims rather than just Pakistan. Just Pakistan! A country where people of various ethnicities live, where people from different religions live, which is diverse and beautiful, because yes, diversity is beautiful. Somewhere along our rhetoric of this dominant national identity we forget our own country, our own countrymen and our own people. OUR PEOPLE. Yes, there are Christian PAKISTANIS living amongst us who are as patriotic as we are. There are HINDU Pakistanis living amongst us who may be more patriotic then even you! Is this diversity too difficult to accept? To be on an equal foothold as a Christian or a Hindu or a Parsi because they too are Pakistanis? Is this too alien an idea for us to embrace?
I just hope that whoever reads this takes a few moments to just ‘think’ about what we are doing to ourselves – our country is bleeding. I cannot condemn yesterday’s attack anymore. I can only make a humble request to my fellow countrymen to find and identify the extremists within us all and within our State systems. Lets banish extremism now. Enough is enough! The blood of our fellow “Pakistanis” is not cheap.