Ever since the attack on Joseph Colony, my mind has been going back to September 2002. It was one of the early weeks of my first semester in the university. Our batch was huddled in the lecture hall for an open cum moderated discussion over the topic ‘Pakistan is a failed state and has a bleak future’. Lot of high pitched voices were arguing with each other and our Professor cum moderator would sometimes interrupt to add his own bit or to point someone to deliver a five minute speech and than again the discussion cum brawl would resume. I had been silent for most part of the discussion that day. Ok well I had silent for ‘all part of that day’. As it is usually the case with me normally I used to avoid making a point if I did not have one or did not strongly believe in it. So yes I was quite. Right up to the point when one of my batch mates started talking about how Pakistan has treated its minorities and gave an example of a bomb blast that had occurred near Islamabad in which mostly Christian community was killed.
And than I spoke up. I countered that while the attack condemmable, the example does not justify the overall generalization that Pakistan had been ‘that bad’ to minorities. Comparing the incident to Indian Gujrat massacre, I said that while this was a random terrorist attack that could happen anywhere, Gujrat was the case of systematic communal violence to eliminate an entire community. Something which has never happened in Pakistan. Our professor who up until that point was favoring the ‘other side’ of the argument suddenly switched side and said that this argument was the first intellectual argument made during the whole session and the hall went into applause.
Yes I felt kind of proud. How very naive I was.
Of course at that time I did truly believed in it. I did not know that in 1953, Ahmadiyya massacre had also occurred. I also did not know that if an Ahmadi would write write even ‘Alhumdulillah‘ on his daughter’s wedding invitation, a case can be filed against him on the pretext of blasphemy.
My first hand of sectarian/communal hatred was just limited to the anti shia taunts that I received as I grew up. While those weren’t exactly ‘fun’ but I never imagined any of those people doing them would be filled with real hatred in their hearts to actually resort to violence against a powerless group. Sure there acts of terror against shia professionals in Karachi and Southern Punjab, but it were limited to the very groups who were indulged in it. At least that is what I thought at that time anyway.
But the real test of a person comes when he is in state of power and as our society grew more intolerant by every hour, and the state gave in slowly to extremist’s blackmail, I started noticing more evidence to communal violence, which I earlier used to shoo away as a ‘random terrorist attacks’. If one only looks at last five years only, evidence is far from overwhelming.
Mobs gathering for protest against Ahmadiyya mosques for using Quranic verses, terrorists killing shias in provisional capital Quetta and finding time to roam around free after that without a care in the world, burning of churches in the excuse of protest against youtube video (YES A STUPID YOUTUBE VIDEO SERIOUSLY), showering killer of governor who supported a poor Christian woman with garlands, Gojra, Badaami Bagh are all the examples of cases where hatred with in the general public against a different set of thought has emerged out in the open. If Modi was a criminal in Gujrat than same is true for Punjab government in case of Gojra who silently withdrew all the prosecution against a mob attack which resulted in eight people being burned alive just because of a false blasphemy alarm. In fact some of the pictures of Gojra and Badami Baagh are so similar that I cant help but keep on getting haunted from the defensive argument that I had used.
The very fact that I felt the need to ‘compare’ a sad incident with the other country example itself was a wrong thing to do. A nation (not a dead nation) would always acknowledge its fault and work to overcome it. many of problems of Pakistan has been prolonged unnecessarily as we as a whole have collectively failed to look at our own-selves and have created the bubble of a superiority complex that all the world is somehow doing conspiracies against us and we are all little angels. The refusal to acknowledge the inner problems is the reason that we are quick to jump in to any apologist conclusion any one provides us. Just like my professor did