Sectarian Fault Lines & Pakistan

Sectarian Fault Lines

My heart aches, every time, when I see brutal and inhumane killing of innocent people and their heavily bereft families. At the same time, I wonder over the inability of the state in protecting the precious lives and property of its citizens whether it is of a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and over the senseless and psychologically-tortured masses of the country, jo zulm to sehty hain per ‘uff’ nahi kartey.

Islam is, verily, a divine religion, whose sole purpose is to guide people on how to live under entire submission to the Will of Allah. It’s a religion of peace and harmony that advocates for the wellbeing of the entire humanity. It guarantees the right to live, right to worship and freedom of speech and expression to all minorities living in a Muslim state or Caliphate. The first Muslim community at Medina proved this very notion as the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims of Medina amalgamated in a heterogenous society and lived cordially together despite their contrasting religious creeds and beliefs. According to one of postulates of Charter of Medina (623 AD/ 1 AH), concluded between the Muslims, the Jews and other non-Muslims, “There would be no interference in each other’s religious matters.”

The Holy Qur’an Says:

Translation: “Unto you your religion, and onto me my religion” (109:6).

Indeed, Surah Al-Kafirun, advocates religious tolerance, freedom and pluralism. In addition, there is ample space, for other faiths and religions, in Islam to enable mutual coexistence and harmony instead of bloodshed and chaos. Shams Tabrizi has aptly said:

“We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others amounts to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.”

Unfortunately, in the contemporary world, Islam is presented as a tool in the hands of those who want to achieve their vicious vested interests. Most seminaries have been unable to disseminate the true knowledge of peace and harmony. Due to Mullahs, many of these institutions produce hardcore fanatics and extremists who are ready to kill and get killed for trivial reasons. Such state of affairs jeopardizes the concept of peace, and the life and property of every individual becomes unsecure and vulnerable to constant sectarian violence which is haunting the country like a spectre.

Currently, the whole Islamic world, whether it is Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon or Pakistan, is engulfed by an inferno of sectarian violence. Instead of cultivating peace and prosperity and working laboriously to emancipate them from the shackles of West’s slavery in every facet of life, the Islamic belt has been divided along sectarian fault lines.

Sectarian Fault LinesSectarianism in Pakistan stems out of the deep-rooted ideological animosity between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, who support and train their respective ideological allies to gain regional supremacy.

Contrarily, Islamic teachings regard the freedom, and guarantee liberty to all non-Muslim communities. Multiple instances from the life of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and four rightly-guided Caliphs (RA) can be quoted where the lives and properties of non-Muslim communities were properly guarded by the Islamic state. Islam condemns the killing of innocents. Even in wars, killing of innocent and unarmed civilians is not allowed. But, unfortunately, the killing of innocent people in the name of Islam has become a routine in many Muslim countries across the globe. Islam says that “… whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind…”  Similarly, Islam was neither propagated with the help of sword nor there is any compulsion in Islam.

On the other hand, in our country, sectarian enmity and bloodshed is taking a heavy toll on the innocent humans. Regrettably, despite numerous pledges by successive governments to maintain law and order situation, the very issue still lingers on. But every time we hear the same words of strong condemnation and sympathy for the bereaved families and the whole blame is put on foreign hands.

To slay the hydra of terrorism, the government, soon after the heart-wrenching incident of Peshawar school massacre, came up with a 20-point National Action Plan whereby military courts were established for speedy trial of the terrorism suspects. Previously, the government had created the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) for similar purposes. Unluckily, nothing substantial has been achieved so far in controlling the menace. Serious questions regarding the credibility of the government arise out of the chronic grim situation and sporadic deadly attacks. Whether the government is efficient or there is some lack of dedication and sincerity on the part of it in resolving such grave issues.

For its survival, every state acquires power domestically that is to maintain law and order and improve security. The acquisition of power is not an end in itself rather it’s a means to an end. The direst need of the hour is to take concrete steps to create a lasting environment of peace, harmony and mutual coexistence among differing communities. Following suggestions may be instructive in this regard:

Firstly, National Action Plan must be strictly implemented and NACTA must be made functional and authoritative.

Secondly, religious institutions of every sect should be registered and monitored by the government so that the same stereotype mentality may not creep into young minds. In addition, funding to seminaries in Pakistan must also be properly checked. Furthermore, the hate material in textbooks and religious books must also be expunged.

Thirdly, the law-enforcement agencies like police, paramilitary troops and armed forces must be depoliticized and the saga of proxy wars and serving others’ interests at the cost of internal disturbances must come to an end now.

Lastly, Pakistan needs to reorient its foreign policy objectives, and its domestic polity, too, must address the grievances of the masses. And, instead of creating chaos by fighting proxy wars and indulging in regional power politics, the issues of immense intensity that the country faces today must be resolved.

The writer has done his Masters in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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