Growing Intolerance in Pakistan
As 16 November is an International Day for Tolerance. According to UNESCO “Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” In simple words, tolerance is to accept and pay respect to cultural diversity, others’ opinions and their lifestyles. If there is tolerance ultimately there will be peace and harmony in our society.
Unfortunately, intolerance has become a challenge in Pakistan and it fills my heart with sadness to think that we as a society are so intolerant. Here people bear different lifestyles and different notions because they are from different religions and cultures. The main cause of intolerance in Pakistan is internal conflicts among different sects, different religions and groups with opposite opinions. Religious and sectarian extremism is prevalent here which turns people more violent, barbaric and intolerant. This year in March, a bomb inside the imambargah in Peshawar city killed dozens while they were offering Friday prayers. We profoundly condemned and grieved the killings but failed to catch the perpetrators behind the whole scheme.
Similarly, if we see a person who commits blasphemy then we become both, a judge and an executioner at the same time and kill that person on the spot. For example, in 2012, a teenage Christian boy was accused of sending text messages containing blasphemous content, and his home was attacked by a mob in Karachi. In many instances, the accused were killed by mobs before legal proceedings i.e. in 2020 in Punjab a senior manager of the Bank was killed by the bank’s security guard over the allegation of blasphemy. Likewise, in 2021 in Sialkot, a mob tortured Priyantha Kumara a Sri Lankan manager to death over blasphemy allegations and then burnt his body after killing him. Although the country has laws when it comes to Namoos-i-Risalat (the sanctity of the Prophet). In this regard, the government should play its role to halt the way of such cases. Mob involved in violent attacks should be dealt with iron hands — the laws of Namoos-i-Risalat should be implemented in true spirit.
Every religion that has come into the world has brought the message of love, brotherhood and tolerance. Similarly, our religion Islam also teaches us tolerance. Tolerance promotes regional peace and stability. We Pakistani should practice tolerance because it will spire other people with a sense of unity, patriotism and the desire to serve. Intolerance creates hatred, fear and cowardice while tolerance creates love, unity and brotherhood.
To conclude it is our social, ethical and religious responsibility that we all should fight against intolerance that existed in our society and should practice tolerance. There are several ways through which we can address the malaise of intolerance to a large extent. The first and foremost thing is that we should properly educate our children and the general public about the consequences of intolerance in society. We should teach them to give respect to every religion. We also need to eliminate the ‘we’ syndrome and should listen to others’ points of view and pay respect to the difference of opinion. Teachers, especially clergy can change public attitudes towards religious tolerance.
This article was submitted by a writer on 16th November. Published after necessary editing.