Tackle the roots of intolerance: HRCP

Lahore, September 2: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has attributed Wednesday’s attacks on Shia processions on Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom day to continued failure of the state to confront the causes and perpetrators of extremism and violence in the name of belief.

In a statement issued on Thursday, HRCP said: “The attacks on Wednesday on a procession of Shias in Lahore, and on a similar procession in Karachi hours earlier, have once again highlighted the fact that besides posing a threat to the integrity and stability of the state the militants operating under the umbrella of belief will inevitably step up violence against the sects they disagree with.

As a rule, such attacks have been followed by an exclusive focus on the security aspect and not at all on the extremist organisations that orchestrate these attacks or the root causes of intolerance. One such organisation has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Lahore. The government may have banned many extremist militant groups in theory, by adding their names to an official list, but it is clear that these groups face little difficulty in continuing their activities in plain sight and retain their ability to strike at will.

Many of the extremist organisations that justify violence and bloodshed in the name of belief are homegrown and are an outcome of local politics. Little has been done to shut down their operations or to confront the movements that had led to the emergence of these organiszations or to rethink the assumptions that enable rank criminals to get away with blue murder in the name of belief.

It must be abundantly clear to all concerned by now that cosmetic half-measures will not do. The root causes of militancy and sectarian violence need to be addressed urgently. The rot will not stop until the government and other institutions somehow discover the courage to stop crimes perpetrated in the name of belief. Until the time that happens, the usual vows of bringing the perpetrators to justice will only cause frustration and rage among the victims and their families and augment the aura of impunity for the killers of innocent people and destroyers of peace.” 

Dr Mehdi Hasan


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