The persistent attacks on the Shia population in Pakistan are gradually taking an alarming shape. Every attack is resulting in the death of a number of people, thus forcing the Shias to wonder whether they are at all safe in that country.
But what is more worrying is that the Pakistan government does not seem to be serious enough in addressing the problem, thus protecting the Shias who have no less claim on that country than what their Sunni brothers have. After every attack the Pakistan government is coming up with virtually the same comment, which “strongly condemns” the attack and “promises to take actions”. But all of its actions seem to be ending in making comments, without that being followed by any concrete step. If the government had at all been serious in countering this menace, then of course these attacks would not have stopped overnight, but certainly would not have been so persistent as they are right now.
Actually the wide rift between the Sunni and Shia communities is a perennial problem of Pakistan (actually, it is a perennial problem of the global Muslim society as a whole). It is a feeling of mutual disliking and disrespect that is found even among the common Pakistanis who have no link with terrorism. It is only that the feeling is not that acute among them. But that does not mean that the feeling does not exist at all. It does. And this has resulted in the constant harassment of the minority Shia community in the hands of the Sunni majority, from the very birth of Pakistan.
Another example of intra religious fissure in Pakistan is that of the feeling of hostility towards the people of Ahmadiyya community. In fact Ahmadiyyas face an ultra shocking discrimination in Pakistan. To begin with, Pakistan does not even recognize them as Muslims, and it is the world’s only country where Ahmadiyyas have been officially declared to be non-Muslims. And these poor people are deprived of various rights, such as worshipping in a non- Ahmadiyya mosque, chanting Namaz, publicly quoting from the Holy Quran and even publishing their religious materials. In a nutshell, they are simply not permitted to practice anything that a pious Muslim aspires to do. In fact, the condition of Ahmadiyyas is so bad in Pakistan that even prominent personalities from that community do not dare to admit in public that they are Ahmadiyyas. Case in point is Mr. Shaukat Aziz, a former prime minister of Pakistan, and a respected one for that matter.
If this can be the condition of the “intra-religious minorities” from the Muslim community itself, then I shudder to think what can be the condition of the genuine religious minorities, such as Hindus, Christians, etc. Probably Karachi is the only place in the entire Pakistan where Hindus can lead a life of peace and dignity.