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The hope here is dying In Pakistan

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Major (r) Zaheer is a member of the recently launched Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party and its candidate from NA-129, Lahore. NA-129 is the constituency from where Shehbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab and the brother of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s (PML-N) head Nawaz Sharif, was elected in the 2013 General Election. Though he later left the seat, this is where he contested the election and won with a thumping majority. Now the retired military man mentioned above has recently gained notoriety for a video in which he openly threatened to murder the former Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. In the infamous video, Zaheer claimed that Nawaz Sharif was responsible for the execution of the former Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s murderer and thus deserved to be killed.

In another video, where a young boy asked him if he actually meant what he said, Major (r) Zaheer reiterated his resolve ‘to kill Nawaz at sight’ and charged him of having signed the execution orders of Mumtaz Qadri and murder of 14 citizens in the Model Town tragedy that took place three years back in Lahore. Going further, Zaheer said that it wasn’t the first time that Nawaz Sharif had done something of the sort as the former PM had also declared Ahmedis as ‘his Pakistani brothers and sisters’ back in 2009. He said that it was his ‘duty under Sharia’ to kill Nawaz Sharif and he’d carry out the duty as soon as he came across Nawaz.

Major (r) Zaheer 1

And Nawaz Sharif’s brother is the chief minister of Punjab. And he had won the election from the very constituency that this murderous mullah hails from. Yet he is helpless. He is unable to take any action whatsoever against the ex-soldier for not only having vowed to kill his elder brother but has also been inciting people to violence through these sermons against the former PM. The chief minister is well aware of what happened to Salman Taseer six years ago and probably scared of what happened to Taseer. The then governor of Punjab was slain by his own security guard for having spoken up in favour of a Christian woman Asia Bibi who was facing a blasphemy charge in the courts. It was of his murderer that Nawaz Sharif had signed the executive orders of execution since the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared Mumtaz Qadri a murderer and had passed his execution orders.

So the Religious minorities are not the only ones persecuted here. Even the people coming from the majority Sunni community can be murdered at will if found ‘guilty’ of speaking up against the oppression and persecution of the minorities. Calling members of a minority community as even your ‘Pakistani’ brethren might end up in a fatwa being issued for your murder. Calling out even the misuse of the blasphemy law can earn you 27 bullets in the chest. And these are the people in the highest authority. One governor was murdered, one former PM might get murdered and a sitting Chief Minister is helpless; he can’t do anything about these people.

And this is how we live in this country; hoping that nobody reads what we write down. The state here can abduct people and then blame of blasphemy through its unofficial social media accounts. A woman gets murdered in Karachi for arranging a talk on the issue of Balochistan and she gets murdered by someone over blasphemy allegation. Another Karachi University professor is murdered in a similar situation. A student gets lynched at a university in Mardan. And all of it happens right under the nose of the state, and yet nothing changes.

The world doesn’t portray us as terrorists just because we have produced so many of these terrorists in the past few years. They call us terrorists because we do not speak up, and because those who speak up become victims of terrorism too, and because the state is complicit; it’s either helpless or is a partner in crime. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the common man to speak up in this country against extremism. We’re in a catch-22 situation and there doesn’t seem to be a way out of this maze with dead ends everywhere. The hope here is dying.

Author’s Bio: The author is an editor and writes on political and social issues. He writes for Dunya Blogs, The Friday Times, Fasaadi.com and Humsub.com.pk. He can be reached at @thealiwarsi

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