Let’s move forward, please!

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Religious zealots have brought almost all the country to a standstill following the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case. As expected, a terrible situation prevailed in major cities as club-wielding protesters blocked major thoroughfares and caused great inconvenience to citizens. The response of a religious party to a judgment of the top court is unacceptable. The protesters gathered on the call of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan are becoming more and more uncontrollable. It seems nobody is safe at the hands of extremists who do not like to adhere to the golden principle of tolerance taught by our Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Sensing the dangerous situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned the protesters of dire consequence if they would take the law in their hands. So far, the protesters are busy harassing commuters and have brought all the traffic to a standstill in major cities. In this situation, the government is facing severe criticism from the media and politicians for allowing such religious hooligans to take the country hostage. It is a matter of great concern that the leaders with extremist views are challenging the writ of the government. The government needs to take action against those clerics who openly talk about violence and bloodshed. These so-called leaders and their followers are taking law in their hands, teasing people and are not allowing ambulances with seriously ill people to reach hospitals. It is high time that the government takes serious action against these violent protesters. The government needs to convince them to quit violence and if they are not ready to budge, then the only option should be a tough action against these extremists.

It is a cause for concern that evil mongers are spreading their negative agenda. In a state where a majority of citizens are illiterate, many have a poor understanding of the laws of the land. The misuse of the blasphemy law is rampant in our society. Oftentimes, mere assumptions are enough to kill a person in the name of religion. These elements use religious as a shield to safeguard their own interests. Besides, the blasphemy law is exploited to settle personal scores. There are numerous examples where the innocent persons were brutally killed by mob violence on the basis of mere allegations of committing blasphemy. The blasphemy law, in particular, has become a vehicle of the persecution of minorities and also Muslims. It is often misused and innocent people are accused of committing blasphemy by others holding personal vendettas. It is the responsibility of the government to provide a safe environment for its minorities and promote a culture of tolerance and mutual respect amongst various communities. This growing culture of mob mentality and peoples’ tendency to take the law into their own hands is indicative of a larger issue. There is an urgent need to reform the century-old blasphemy laws in the country. Yes, the nature of the topic is sensitive, but it cannot be just left for the clerics to interpret and give a judgment of their liking. Unless a public debate starts on the topic and the bullying power of Mullahs is taken away, such vandalism cannot end.