By M Ghazali Khan
The wave of strong condemnation on social media of the attacks on Hindu temples in Gotki, Sindh, is a pleasant surprise. This change really brings a breath of fresh air from the country that has earned international notoriety for not being able to protect its minorities. Usually Pakistanis react with counter attacks to such comments. Whenever this aspect is mentioned they rush to compare the condition of Indian Muslims under Modi with minorities in Pakistan. But then does what is being done to minorities in India justify your wrong?
Farnod Alam, perhaps an Islamabad based journalist, summarises the incident in one his posts like this:
‘A school student, 14, in Gotki had not completed in his homework. School principle Nutan Lal reprimanded him. The pupil did not like it. He told his father that Nutan Lal has blasphemed against the Prophet. The father ignored the boy. An unemployed journalist in Gotki posted boy’s allegations on his Facebook. Day and night, he screamed and incited the public in his Facebook posts demanding that the ‘blasphemer’ be punished. He succeeded in gathering professional clergy and pouring oil on the fire.
‘Police station was gheroed and an FIR was registered against Nutal Nal. But the unemployed journalist and professional clergy were not content with this. They were desperate to see [legal proceedings completed and] Nutan Lal hung overnight. The outrage of the clergy and Facebook posts of the unemployed journalist resulted in public going berserk. They ransacked the properties of Hindus and vandalised temples.
‘And now! The unemployed journalist is sermonising and condemning the violent mob in his posts. The 14 year old pupil is saying that he had made false allegations against Nutan Lal. ‘”I had no idea that this would culminate into this. I am ashamed.”
‘A spoiled child made an allegation. A foolish and useless journalist fanned the rumour. Some 20 odd half literate clergies issued edicts. Timid police registered an FIR and within no time the fire of frenzy flared up. This is all that is left in the name of intelligence, morality and outlook of this dead [Muslim] community residing in this rare piece of land.’
What one finds encouraging is that this condemnation has come not so much from liberals or leftists, usually branded and condemned as conspirators against ‘saltanat-e-khudad’ (God given country) but from practicing Muslims.
Saudi based engineer Mansoor Nadeem whose profile photograph shows him standing in front of the grand of Masji al Haram, the grand mosque of Makkah, in Ihram—two white unstiched pieces worn by pilgrims— writes on his Facebook wall, ‘For as long as we continue to view ourselves as superior to others on the basis of patriotism, religion, sects, beliefs castes and customs, and for as long as we continue to deceive ourselves by taking pride in the events related to of our ancestors, we will remain confined in this backwardness and will never feel ashamed of it’.
He comes heavily on religious organisations for failing in stopping and condemning these injustices.
London based lawyer and editor of widely respectable portal Mukaalma, Inam Rana posted a number of angry comments deploring these attacks and published articles on Mukaalma. ‘In their fits of despairs [and sympathy] some fiends have been advising Hindu and Sikh friends that in order to save their lives they should migrate to India for [in their view] this country is not worth living for them.’ He wrote in one of his posts and continued, ‘This land belongs to them [as well]. They have been living here for centuries. They are the children of this land like you and me and have as much right as you and I have. They will not go anywhere. This is no different from Indian Muslims being asked to migrate to Pakistan. Those who need to go somewhere else are those who rob the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or Ahmadi of their rights and the place they must go to is prison.’
Inam Rana’s post has hundreds of likes and has been followed by even more harshly worded condemnation of temple attacks.
‘Following Gotki incidents Pakistanis have lost the moral right to complain that India does not allow Kashmiris to offer Friday prayers.’ Wrote Arslan Aslam, perhaps Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf’s supporter on his wall.
Known for his outspokenness and strong language against religious elites Rana Tanveer Aalamgeer wrote, ‘For as long as the gatekeepers of religion are not given lessons in humanity incidents like Gotki will continue to happen.’
Pakistani Hindu and a Karachi resident, Kishore Togani, posted video clips of vandalised temples. He has also posted photographs of Muslims, all of them, except Minister Saeed Ghani, look ordinary folks and not politicians or other lot with vested interests. He also wrote, ‘We salute all those Muslims and all those religious, political and social organisations who visited the [vandalised temple], expressed solidarity with and gave assurance of protection to Hindus.’
In another post Kishore wrote, ‘All of us, the Hindus who live in Pakistan, respect all the religions and faiths from the depths of our hearts. Many Hindus have their spiritual leaders from Ahlal-e-Bait Syeds [decedents of Prophet Muhammad PBUH], how can they even think of blaspheming against the Holy Prophet’. He urged the Pakistani government to punish the guilty and ensure the protection of the lives and properties of Hindus.
Mr Kishore also posted a video clip of a leader of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Pakistan, Rashid Mehmood Somru, who said that the allegation of blasphemy against the Prophet should be investigated and if it is found to be true, the culprit should be brought to justice. But, ‘On the pretext of this incident properties are being attacked in Gotki and the lives and businesses of minorities are being ransacked. Neither Islam permits this nor does the constitution of Pakistan. I appeal the members of Jamiatu Ulema-e-Islam to keep away from the mischief that is going on in Gotki… no harm should be done to the life or property of any member of the minority community.’
Many have demanded that the temple attackers be tried and punished under blasphemy laws of Pakistan.
In another hadith the Prophet said: ‘Whoever killed a Mu’ahid shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of travelling).’ Sahih al-Bukhari.’
This is really sad that as far as minority rights in Pakistan are concerned religious institutions and organisations have not only failed in fulfilling their duties in educating the public but have maintained criminal silence on the violation of human rights of minorities. Have they lost the fear of one day facing the Final Justice in the Divine Court about which the Prophet (PBUH) has warned, ‘Whosoever metes out cruelty to a Mh’ahid (non-Muslim citizen) or deprives him of his right and takes anything from him by force, then on the Day of Judgement he would in the Court of Allah plead for him against such a Muslim.’ (Abu Dawood).
In addition, Qur’an enjoins upon the believers ‘Believers! Be upholders of justice, and bearers of witness to truth for the sake of Allah, even though it may either be against yourselves or against your parents and kinsmen, or the rich or the poor: for Allah is more concerned with their well-being than you are. Do not, then, follow your own desires lest you keep away from justice. If you twist or turn away from (the truth), know that Allah is well aware of all that you do.’ (Qur’an, An-Nisa, 4:135).