Religious intolerance reared its ugly head once again in Pakistan when a group of unidentified people vandalised a Hindu temple in the Korangi area of Karachi and desecrated an idol. The police are clueless about the attackers and the motive for the attack is unknown. However, speculations are high that slanderous comments by a BJP spokesperson in India led to the current vandalism of the Hindu temple. Leaders at the helm of affairs need to play their role and restrain these unscrupulous elements from tarnishing the image of the country. This incident is harsh and obnoxious as all religious places are respectable and miscreants have no right to act on their own negatively just to quench their anger. The incident highlights the fact that a country created to protect and house the Muslim minority of united India, has fallen woefully short of providing fundamental rights to its own minorities. They do not know what it is like to freely profess and follow their religions and they do not even have very basic human rights. An impartial review of the status of minorities in the country reveals that the members of minority communities are living under the fear of subjugation by religious zealots. The virulent and intolerant right wing religious groups are gaining increasing space in Pakistan, while the freedoms of minorities are vanishing. Pakistan was envisaged to be a safe country for everyone including the non-Muslims where everyone could enjoy equal rights without any discrimination. Even Quaid-i-Azam’s first cabinet included ministers with different religions, who are coming under attack by so-called thinkers of the present era. Quaid, who in his August 11, 1947, speech had said that everyone is free to go to their temples, mosques and churches as the state did not have anything to do with the religion. But over the years, minorities have been persecuted in Pakistan due to the apathy of the religious clergy of the country.
State succumbed to the pressure of the religious lobbies, and the religion was left to them for exploitation and comes under attack almost daily. Their religious places are not safe and they have no rights. The discrimination against the minorities has become so common that no one bothers to care about the issue. Although it was Jinnah’s intention to unite all races and religions in Pakistan and allow the minorities to live in peace, tolerance in society, yet the lives of religious minorities have severely declined since then. Individuals belonging to the minorities have been attacked, along with their property and places of work and worship. Aside from Christians, Ahmedis, Shias and other Muslim minorities, the Hindus in Pakistan have had to relocate to India, convert to Christianity or Islam – either forcibly or out of fear – and brutally persecuted, simply for being Hindu. Members of the Hindu community live their lives secluded from the rest of society and practice their religion in secret out of fear for the ever present threat to their security. It is due time to return to the sentiment of coexistence and make Pakistan a safe, happy and prosperous place to live for all. Legal action must be taken against those who commit crimes against minorities and their religious places.