Muhammad Ali Jinnah – Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August, 1947
As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.
The heirs of Jinnah’s Pakistan have failed to live up to the expectations of the nations founding fathers. Today’s attacks on Ahmedi “worship places”, was despicable and deserved not only our sympathies with the families of the victims; but our unequivocal condemnation of such barbarism.
However, that too seems too much to ask for.
What filled our television screens and the blogosphere were commentaries on whether Ahmedi worship places can be called mosques or not. Whether we can recognize mid-Friday worship at these venues as Friday prayers or not. And to my utter disgust and disappointment some comments that suggested that the victims, due to their beliefs have brought upon themselves such senseless violence.
Predictably, we have claims of foreign influence, nefarious and maligned conspiracies, and actions by “hidden hands” etc. However, while everyone seems to have an opinion on what transpired in Lahore, several people find it extremely hard to condemn without reservation the murder of innocent people. Words of condemnation are followed by a caveat.
Are we as a society becoming guilty of tolerating violence? Why are some forms of criminality tolerated while others considered unforgivable?
Regardless of the beliefs of the victims, is it not a crime to carry weapons, enter private property and cause bodily and material destruction? Whether or not the perpetrators of the attack are the Taliban or “foreign agents” is beside the point. It does not excuse the state from its responsibility to protect its citizens?
Today’s attacks illustrate how on the one hand the state continues to underestimated the strength and determination of terrorists, and how gullible a nation we are that believes statements by the government and military that progress is being made in the fight against miscreants. Victims of today’s attack would be hardly convinced.
Further, would a representative of the state care to explain how gunmen were able to carry weapons and explosives without being challenged at any of the checkpoints that have been erected? How were two of the terrorists able to escape when the perimeter should have been cordoned off?
We complain about civilian deaths at the hands of US drone attacks. We demand that our citizens receive the same protections without reservation or discrimination. We condemn atrocities committed against Muslim’s in India. Yet when it comes to our fellow citizens, we are increasingly intolerant towards them, and tolerant of violence against them.
It’s time to call a spade, a spade. There can be no half measures, no notions of acceptable violence and criminality. We as a society have become increasingly adept at marginalizing minorities; that when crimes are perpetrated against them our condemnation and outrage seems muted.