How this country treats its minority communities has been a topic of debate since the past few years with violence against certain groups being reported in many areas of the country. The fact is that the Constitution provides for equal treatment and protection of every citizen, irrespective of their class, creed or gender; a sentiment that is also often upheld by those in power. Just this past week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed had said that “all citizens, including our minorities, are free to practice their religion”. Prime Minister Imran Khan too, has time and again, reiterated that in a state of Medina, everyone is protected. But there is still something fundamentally very wrong in our society that has been widening the gap between the Muslim majority of this country and its various minority groups. The hatred has once again led to a condemnable act taking place in Kotri.
On Thursday, a group of unidentified men desecrated a Hindu temple and vandalised the statues of deities, while also stealing cash and jewelry from the premises. To say that it was just a mere attempt of robbery would be doing disservice to the aggrieved Hindu community of the province, as no thief destroys a house after stealing from it. The men were filled with hatred for the minority group because vandalism of holy places of the community has unfortunately become a frequent occurrence. In August, the Bhong temple in Rahim Yar Khan was ransacked by an angry mob on an alleged case of blasphemy. Last year too, two separate incidences, one in Thar Village in January and the other in Khyber Pakhtunhkwa in December, marked the rise of violence against the already marginalized Hindu community in Pakistan.
While religious clerics have denounced the rising acts of violence against minority groups, the problem lays in the mindset of the society. The institutionalized prejudice against non-Muslims has sneaked into the functioning of the state. For instance, under the Single National Curriculum, all students from Grade one to five are compelled to study Islamic content, leaving no space for children of minority communities. Similarly, the recent rejection of the anti-forced conversion bill by a parliamentary committee only exposes the decay in our society. The government needs to create a space where minority groups can live without constant fear and anger. More importantly, the society too needs to do better in bridging this divide. The onus cannot be put upon the state alone.