For years, Pakistan has consistently renewed its international image as a country of grave concern, with not only its inability to halt the progress of terrorist and militant groups within the country but also its inability to provide basic needs of its own population. Far from offering any assurance that it can control the growing militancy of terror groups like the Pakistani Taliban, the government of Pakistan is not even able to exhibit any competency for protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms of its people.
A glance at news reports in recent weeks illustrates the extent of injustice and outright cruelty perpetrated by vicious individuals and the appalling complacency of the general population. On May 27, a 25-year-old woman was bludgeoned to death with stones and bricks outside the Lahore High Court by a mob including her own father and bothers because she chose to marry a man against her family's wishes. Although several have been taken into custody for this heinous crime, a senior officer nearly justified the crime by claiming the woman's marriage "was both illegal and immoral" and seemingly defended the criminals, stating "These people come from a village, you can't expect them to act as if they were on Oxford Street." Even more appalling are reports that this murder occurred in front of a crowd of onlookers who literally did nothing.
The very next week, an 18-year-old woman was shot in the face by her family, stuffed into a sack and thrown into a canal in Hafizabad because she, too, chose to marry a man against her family's wishes. What is happening in that country that makes people so hard-hearted, vicious, and sadistic? And what is happening in that country that makes onlookers complacent in the face of such injustice?
There is a deep culture of intimidation bred and nurtured in Pakistan, and much of the responsibility for this callous disregard for justice and fairness lies on the shoulders of their religious leadership, who have endorsed and encouraged injustice for decades. For a country claiming to adopt religion as their national identity by calling itself the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is not then the perilous condition of morality in the country the fault of its religious leaders? Should not the people already know that Islam condemns such acts of so-called "honor" killings? How do they remain ignorant of the example of the Prophet Muhammad?
The brazen disregard for law and order -- coupled with the dreadful silence of the country's majority -- is in fact promoted by religious leaders and institutions in Pakistan. Take for example the targeted intimidation, discrimination and even murder of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. For years, posters and billboards have been hung around Pakistan calling for the boycott and murder of Ahmadi Muslims. Recently, one such poster was printed by the Khatme-Nabuwat Students Federation of Pakistan, calling the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community "a deadly poison" and invokes emotional sentiments towards Islam and the Prophet Muhammad to flagrantly call for murder. The poster says about Ahmadi Muslims: "Their punishment is Death. Killing these people in an open market is Jihad and virtue." Is it any surprise that more than 130 Ahmadi Muslims have been targeted and killed in Pakistan the past four years? Is it any surprise that an American Ahmadi Muslim, Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar, visiting Pakistan on a medical mission was shot 11 times in the chest in front of his wife and two-year-old child on May 26?
What is perhaps most shocking about posters like this is that the name and contact information of the organization is clearly listed, but no legal action is taken against them. In this case, they print the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and two local Pakistan phone numbers for people to call, seemingly to join the campaign to murder innocent citizens of Pakistan. And what does law enforcement do? They claim to "protect" the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community by banning the publication of their materials, forbidding them from calling themselves Muslims, forbidding them from referring to their houses of worship as Mosques, forbidding them from preaching and forbidding them from reading the Quran so as not to upset the radical clergy.
This intolerance has continued to grow. On June 8, at least 23 people were killed near Pakistan's border with Iran during a targeted attack against Shia pilgrims. The situation in Pakistan has spiraled into an out of control crisis that now spills outside its borders as well. Pakistan will never resolve its problem of barbarism and lawlessness if it does not restrain the callous and dangerous practices of its religious leadership.
It's time to remove the power that religious clergy have in state affairs and enforce the adherence to justice, peace and equity. Pakistan's inability to provide justice and safety for its own population is now resulting in insecurity for other nations at the hands of the same extremists who they have emboldened. Bring swift and stern justice to those who heartlessly murder their own daughters with some sense of misplaced pride. Bring swift and stern justice to those who openly call for the murder of innocent people, with blatant disregard for any consequences. If Pakistan will not come to the aid of its own people soon, it will be too late for anyone to save the country from being completely overrun by extremists.
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