Read Omar Ali’s blogpost Three Layers of Confusion.. and their consequences“ for a sound analysis of the vicious suicide bombing in Pakistan on Sunday targetting a church in Peshawar, killing at least 81 people, many of them women and children. Among them were six members of one family, including five women and a child. As Dr Ali points out, “it is not that no action has been taken against them. ..but there is a curious disconnect between these operations and the national narrative being promoted by the same military”. BELOW: a statement by the Forum for Secular Pakistan urging the government to Devise a long-term strategy for dealing with terrorism
KARACHI: Forum for Secular Pakistan (FSP) supports Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to call off the proposed peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan. A state can talk with an enemy that follows some rules of warfare, not with brainwashed criminals who conduct cowardly attacks on innocents.
The Prime Minister has instructed the authorities to devise a new security plan for worship places in Pakistan. FSP urges him to go beyond this and to formulate a well-thought out and clear strategy for overcoming these ongoing faith-based and militant-orchestrated attacks on citizens across the country.
This cannot happen if the state keeps capitulating and appeasing, as it did by unconditionally releasing TTP leader Mullah Baradar “to improve the prospects of peace talks” shortly after the TTP killed a serving Pakistani General and two others in Dir. The Peshawar church attack, that Jundullah, a splinter group of TTP claimed responsibility for, came a day after Baradar’s release.
FSP demands an end to the impunity with which criminals are allowed to operate in the name of religion. Law enforcing agencies and judiciary are unable or unwilling to apprehend, charge, try and punish the criminals in the first instance, emboldening them and their ilk to go a step further. There is no witness protection plan. The perpetrators of the Mardan church destruction were never punished, nor were those who attacked Christian communities at Shantinagar, Joseph Colony, Gojra. Similarly, those who continue to target-kill Ahmadis and Shias are never brought to justice. In the rare cases when suspected militants are caught, they are either freed from the police stations by ‘high officials’ or in jailbreaks that smack of inside connivance.
It is time to end the confusion and act decisively against these ‘Fasadis’ (creators of discord). We refuse to term them as ‘jihadis’ or holy warriors because, despite their claims to act in the name of Islam, they keep violating the basic tenets of the religion, which does not allow the killing of innocents.
What is happening in the name of religion in Pakistan, including the attack on the Peshawar church, is part of an overall malaise that is due to the injection of religion in politics. FSP reiterates that religion is a personal matter that the State has no business interfering with.
The Punjab education ministry’s ban on the teaching of comparative religions in schools and order to confiscate the textbooks following an inflammatory television talk show that falsely accused a private school of not teaching Islamiyat, is an example of the blinkered thinking that helps create a fertile environment for the fanaticism behind the Peshawar attacks.
FSP supports schools that teach comparative religions – that they do in any case in addition to Islamiyat – and that the Punjab education ministry withdraw its order.
The government must work towards reviewing the Constitution and remove all clauses from it that were inserted by dictators, whether in the name of Islam or otherwise, and ensure that it conforms to universal human rights standards, including repealing the clauses that declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims.
Last but not least, FSP unequivocally condemns the attack on the Peshawar church that killed over 80 church goers, many of them women and children, during Sunday mass, and shares in the grief and pain of the surviving families.