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Sacred savagery

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Ismat Shahjehan, president Women Democratic Front holding Mashal Khan’s portrait and other activists at the Student Solidarity March at Islamabad on Friday.–Photo by PrSF

by Waseem Altaf

 

Mashal Khan was my friend on Facebook and would often ask me to recommend him books for reading. He was lynched to death by a group of religious fanatics on this day i.e April 13, in the year 2017. I had written the following write-up after this harrowing incident:

Whoever thinks rationally and has seen the harrowing video of the lynching of Mishal Khan, accused of blasphemy, a final semester student of Mass Communication at a university in Mardan, KPK, is in a state of shock since!
But let us not be shocked!

Let us not be shocked because Jinnah, the father of the nation himself, had pronounced that the Constitution of Pakistan would be based on Islamic Sharia. And the first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan personally ensured the passage of Objectives Resolution which led to the state’s fundamental shift towards theocracy. The all-powerful dictator Ayub Khan added the prefix the ‘Islamic Republic’ to the 1962 constitution of Pakistan. And Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first democratically-elected Prime Minister was instrumental in declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims. General Ziaul Haq, the dictator, “Islamised” the state by introducing the blasphemy law while all attempts to change blasphemy laws have been defeated in the past.

So the state itself has been actively engaged since its very inception in promoting religion in state affairs. Hence, the groundwork was already complete when the body of Mashal Khan was being stoned!

Let us not be shocked because Molvi Abdul Haq translated “secular” as “ladeen” whereas the correct translation had been “herdeen.” And Jamaat-i-Islami and other religious parties which had actively opposed the creation of Pakistan took charge of policymaking and began blackmailing successive governments to mould all policies towards making this country a theocratic state. And all so-called opportunist liberals occupying seats of power never resisted their demands.

Hence, the groundwork was already complete when the body of Mashal Khan was being stoned!

Let us not be shocked because the son-in-law of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, the Senate Chairman and the interior minister, the Senate and the National Assembly, the Punjab Assembly and so-called liberal members of the same provoked the people of this country against almost every free thinker.

Hence, the groundwork was already complete when the body of Mashal Khan was being stoned!

Let us not be shocked because the judge and the bureaucrat, the journalist and the columnist, the uneducated and the educated, the illiterate and the university going, the bearded and the un-bearded, the veiled and the unveiled, all believe that whatever happened to the accused in cases of blasphemy is justified.
Hence, the groundwork was already complete when the body of Mashal Khan was being stoned!

Let us not be shocked because textbooks of madrassas and elite schools, academies of civil/military institutions, public and private TV channels, English and Urdu dailies and mammoth hate literature available in the market, mosques of Deobandis and Brelvis, Shias and Ahle-Hadis without exception keep propagating religiously influenced hate-material.

Hence, the groundwork was already complete when the dead body of Mashal Khan was being stoned!


Waseem Altaf is a bureaucrat and blogger.

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