This year, in April, I blogged about the assassination of Sabeen Mahmud, who was the owner of an artsy cafe cum social forum in Karachi, Pakistan called The Second Floor. A few days ago, I found out that a key witness in Mahmud’s murder case was shot dead in my hometown.
The key witness was Mr. Ghulam Abbas, who worked as a part-time driver for the late Sabeen Mahmud. He was with Sabeen in the car on the day she was murdered. Officials from the Counter Terrorism Department believe that ‘driver’s murder was an act of targeted killing.’
Last month, in August 2015, the home-minister of Punjab, Shuja Khanzada, was killed in suicide attack in his office. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Sunni militant group with strong ties to Al-Qaeda, accepted responsibility of his assassination. Shuja Khanzada was involved in the operation that killed Malik Ishaq, the head of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Almost every month, we hear news of someone being killed for speaking out and acting against the growing militant forces in Pakistan. A certain interpretation of Islam, unfortunately, is one of the main driving forces behind many of these extremist groups.
My blog is a testament to the fact that certain interpretations of Islam are extremely violent with absolutely zero tolerance for dissidents. As I continue to write about the rising death toll in Pakistan and critiquing Islam, I sometimes wonder what my actions may entail. My own safety is one issue. But a more important matter is the development of a counter-narrative. We need to understand and highlight the role that Islam plays in motivating the target killers and the suicide bombers.
Those Muslims, who say that the target killers and suicide bombers in Pakistan, are not Muslims, are completely wrong. Those people, who say that murders such as these are politically motivated rather than religiously driven, are partially wrong. Whereas the murders of Sabeen Mahmud and Shuja Khanzada do have certain political flavor, there is an equal amount religious fervor as well.
Furthermore, in Islam, the line between religion and politics is quite blurry. Islam, in its origins, is a religiously driven, political movement. I believe it is imperative to keep on writing and keep on reflecting and critiquing Islam. There seems no other way out of it.