Blast at Sehwan Sharif

Last month I blogged about my strange affinity to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. This evening my heart sank when I heard about a terrible bomb blast that took place at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar at Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan.

ISIL has accepted responsibility for this attack and it comes as no surprise, given how un-Islamic Sufism is from the perspective of Islamic fundamentalists. I was teary eyed when I read the details of the attack on Internet. 75 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the attack, many of whom were women and children.

shrine-lsq
Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

It goes without saying that the barbarians who perpetrate these heinous acts are extremely determined in their goal. That is, to eradicate from Pakistan everything that stands for peace, love, tolerance and acceptance of the other.

Just a few days earlier, there was a bomb blast in the city of Lahore, Pakistan that killed at least 13 people and wounded several others. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban-linked armed group, claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that the blast was “just the start”.

It’s becoming clear that Pakistan has become a breeding ground Islamic extremists and any voice that dissents from the fundamentalist narrative of Islam will be squelched. I am just at a loss of words and only wish things were not so bad in my home country. Long live the spirit of Sehwan! Jhulelal!

Missing Bloggers of Pakistan

Recently, it came to my attention that a number of social media activists and bloggers went missing in Pakistan. The identity and the motives of the abductors are still unknown. However, what’s common between all these activists is their vocal opposition of ‘religious extremism and the Pakistani authorities’ abuse of opposition activists.’

salman-haider
Protest to recover missing blogger, Salman Haider.

Jibran Nasir, a vocal activist, held a conference to discuss about the missing people. In turn, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, televangelist numero uno, launched a smear campaign against the bloggers, Nasir and Jang Media Group in Pakistan. The smear campaign was launched as part of a TV show called ‘Aisay Nahin Chalega’, which is aired on a controversial channel called Bol TV.

What’s unique about this situation is that for the first time, to the best of my knowledge, voices critiquing the status quo of Pakistan on blogs were tried to be silenced. This is an unprecedented event that is very scary. People criticizing extremist Islam on the Internet are abducted.

Although abduction related to e-proclamations is something new, it doesn’t come as a complete surprise given the conditions in Pakistan. Time and again, grave human rights violations are perpetuated in Pakistan. To quote an article published on this incident on Al-Jazeera:

Dissent or critique of state policy is not only not tolerated but snubbed in a way that an example is set for others. It has been happening to outspoken voices against religious conservatism, state’s appeasement of clergy or the military establishment for years.

It’s really a sorry state of affairs in Pakistan. There’s no room for freedom of expression, even on the Internet. The madness of religious extremism is growing stronger day by day and there seems to end in sight…