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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Let’s save Pakistan from getting lynched in Sialkot – Again

Hassan Aslam Shad, an international lawyer talks about how a mob in Pakistan tortured, killed and then set on fire a Sri Lankan man who was accused of blasphemy over some posters he had allegedly taken down. Priyantha Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan national who worked as general manager of a factory of the industrial engineering company Rajco Industries in Sialkot, Punjab, was set upon by a violent crowd on Friday.

Today’s grisly Sialkot incident has brought to the surface – yet again – deep-rooted (yes, very deep-rooted!) religious bigotry, hatred and disturbing patterns of vigilante justice within our society.

Besides the unthinkable grave injustice caused to the deceased and his family, this incident has literally razed to the ground whatever remained of Pakistan’s global image. 

But it isn’t Pakistan’s image I’m concerned about today. There is nothing left to resurrect any image. I’d rather focus on the ashes we’ve been left to ponder over: those of the Srilankan man tortured and burnt alive in Sialkot and of the nation whose hopes and dreams got burnt with him.

Read more: PM Khan to spare no one in Sialkot disaster

Truth be told: we’re passing through a cataclysmic phase 

One where we, ourselves, are slowly but surely chewing away at the fabric of our society. We are killing ourselves (not so silently) through our silence. All costs add up. They did earlier. They will, again. Silence can take a tremendous toll on society. But, when the national soul is stirred into action – like it has today (not temporarily, I hope) – it can get us all talking. So, let’s talk.

Today’s event should cement our collective belief that religious obscurantism is far bigger & much more dangerous threat to Pakistan than TTP ever was or will be. This religious bigotry in society is our new nucleus. It’s the proverbial eye of the storm. The merchants of hate have announced their arrival – yet again – with a bang.

With literally no other insurance policy against this dangerous development, our sole hope is the ulema. Yes, ulema. I know this sends shivers down our spine, but, there are some learned ulema in our ranks who, sadly, haven’t stepped in to save us and Pakistan from the monstrosity of religious bigotry and hate.

Read more: Foreign national lynched over alleged blasphemy in Sialkot

These Pakistan’s ulema will now need to step in on a “war footing”

If they don’t, then let us hope and pray that they are MADE to step in (by the powers that be) to save Pakistan and its future generations.

This ulema must help the state in softening up the rough edges of the version of Islam, taught by moulvis and pseudo-scholars to our children, that is based on slavish literalism and which has been drilled down in minds through rote learning.

This learned ulema and Islamic scholars should get full support from the state so that they can impart education and Islamic scholarship (a) that is in line with the “essence” of Islam as taught by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H); & (b) which meets the requirements of the 21st Century.

Read more: PTI wins Sialkot seat in major upset for PML-N

Medieval and obscurantist mindsets must be discarded in favor of intellectual ones that are positioned to propagate the essence and substance of Islam to the masses. Unless we do that, I’m afraid we are going to keep getting pulled deeper into this sinkhole.

The bottom, I’m afraid, isn’t too far off.


Hassan Aslam Shad is an international lawyer based in the Middle East and a graduate of Harvard Law School, U.S.A. He can be reached at: veritas@post.harvard.edu.The views expressed in the article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.