‘Pakistan incapable of stepping back from Islamist path’

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What happened in Sialkot has happened innumerable times in the past and the only novelty of the Sialkot incident is that this is the first time a foreigner has been lynched and murdered by a fanatical Islamist mob…reports Asian Lite News

The Sialkot incident, where the Islamist mob accused a Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana of blasphemy and then burnt his dead body, shows that Pakistan is incapable of reforming and stepping back from the Islamist path it embarked right from its creation.

Sergio Restelli, writing in Inside over said that blasphemy, barbarism has burnt brand Pakistan – the Land of the Pure.

What happened in Sialkot has happened innumerable times in the past and the only novelty of the Sialkot incident is that this is the first time a foreigner has been lynched and murdered by a fanatical Islamist mob.

Diyawadana’s Christian faith made his killing so much more palatable for the mob because Christians in Pakistan have been facing the brunt of the attacks in the name of blasphemy, said Restelli.

Not long back a bank guard gunned down the bank manager after accusing the latter of blaspheming. A young college professor has been imprisoned for over 8 years because some students accused him of blasphemy. A Christian couple was beaten up and in front of their children were burnt alive in a brick kiln, reported Inside over.

Priyantha Kumara

There are countless incidents where blasphemy is alleged to settle scores with rivals. That the Blasphemy law in Pakistan is a bad law is not the problem. There are many laws that are bad and liable to be misused. But no one has the courage to reform or amend the law.

The moment someone is accused of blasphemy, a lynch mob is ready to mete out instant punishment – death. If by chance, an accused escaped being lynched, he/she will spend many years in prison because courts are afraid to give bail, lawyers terrified to defend the accused, said Restelli.

Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, is a prime example. Qadri has a shrine made in his honour while Taseer did not even get a decent burial because no cleric was ready to administer his funeral rites, and even his political colleagues were afraid to attend his funeral.

What happened to Diyawadana can easily happen to other expatriate workers. The most endangered are the Europeans and the Chinese. The latter are particularly vulnerable, in part because of the growing sentiment against the treatment meted out to Muslims in China, and in part because of the overbearing manner in which Chinese managers and engineers behave with Pakistanis working under them in CPEC projects, said Restelli.

There are already reports of tensions between the mistreated Pakistani employees and the arrogant, haughty and intemperate Chinese.

The same could happen with an American, or a Frenchman, British, German or any other Westerner, including people working in the IMF.

The thing is that Pakistani media and politicians have been inciting hatred against Westerners, especially the IMF in recent weeks. The French have been particularly targeted for the aggressive secularism in that country which has banned any outward symbol of religiosity, reported Inside over.

The outrage in social media and the condemnation of the incident by people like Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Qamar Bajwa, and a host of other politicians and officials really do not mean much.

They are at best insincere and at worst disingenuous. People like Imran Khan and General Bajwa have assiduously promoted this fanaticism for political ends.

Worse, they have kowtowed to the ideology and the clerics/activists who have weaponized the blasphemy laws to become a potent force in Pakistan’s politics, said Restelli.

Just a few weeks back the entire state machinery lay prostrate before the Tehrik-e-Labbaik marchers, giving in to all their demands and writing off the murder of nearly a dozen police officers as collateral damage. To expect action, much less justice, from such actors is asking for water in the desert.

The international community is well aware of how Imran Khan has been riding on the back of fanatics to come into power, how he has been pandering to them, how the extremists have given immunity from any action by the state.

The world needs to use all the economic, political and diplomatic leverages to make Pakistan step back from the brink. This will not be possible without holding out the threat of punitive action until Pakistan brings the culprits to book and starts to walk back on the issue of blasphemy. (ANI)

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