Minister’s murder

It seems there’s no end to Pakistan’s woes. Just when the Pakistanis, and the world, were beginning to get over the shocking killing of Salman Taseer comes the assassination of Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.It’s no coincidence that, like the late Punjab governor, Bhatti was an outspoken critic of the controversial blasphemy laws and its abuse. As the minister responsible for minorities, Bhatti had been in the forefront demanding pardon for Aasia Bibi, the woman who faces death sentence for allegedly insulting the Prophet (peace be upon him). And now he has paid with his life for his audacity.The Pakistani Tahrik-e-Taleban has reportedly claimed responsibility for the killing, promising similar fate to all those opposing the blasphemy laws. The same self-styled defenders of faith had also claimed responsibility for the Taseer killing.Where is all this going to end? And who stands to benefit from this madness and heinous bloodletting in the name of Islam and the sweet name of its noble Messenger?  Not Islam. And not Pakistan and its 165 million people.This is an act of murder, pure and simple. Those carrying out such craven acts have nothing to do with Islam or its true followers. A religion that warns that taking one innocent life is akin to killing entire mankind can never condone such cowardly acts targeting innocent people.But we have been here before and said all that ad nauseam before, haven’t we? A whopping majority of Pakistanis and Muslims everywhere — 99 percent of them — are peace-loving people. They are outraged and sickened every time violence is perpetrated and innocent lives are taken in their name. They have grown sick and tired of defending themselves and their faith every time something vile and dreadful like this happens. However, there’s no stopping the lunatic fringe. It not just continues to kill at will, it pretends to speak on behalf of a billion of believers.

How long will this go on? There are no easy answers. Pakistan is not the only Muslim country that is facing this siege within. Extremism has emerged as a serious, if not the greatest, threat to Muslim societies everywhere.  Of course, we can go on endlessly debating the historical, political and social factors responsible for the phenomenon. Which we have done for far too long without getting anywhere. It’s about time we came up with some effective steps and concrete action to take on extremism — and those who cling to it as their way of life — head on.Right now, Pakistan is going through a massive churning at all levels. Thanks to its strategic geopolitical location at the crossroads of Asia and Middle East and as a neighbor of Afghanistan and ally of the United States, Pakistan made some critical choices. Today, the nation is clearly paying the price for those strategic choices.Extremism, rampant crime and gun culture are eating into the vitals of the South Asian country that also happens to be a nuclear state. Everything is falling apart. This doesn’t have to be like this. If anyone can change this state of affairs, it is none but the Pakistanis themselves. A resilient and enterprising lot, they have proved time and again they could achieve anything if they put their mind to it.  It’s time to rediscover that fighting spirit of Pakistan to win this war on extremism – Arabnews