A person’s religious beliefs are his private matter. Time and again, over the course of history, we have witnessed the results of intervening in someone’s personal beliefs - it has been nothing but bloodshed, hate speech and cold blooded murders. A history full of such examples should be able to convince people to refrain from labelling someone’s personal beliefs and calling them out for religious differences but unfortunately we fail to learn from our mistakes.

A recent controversy surfaced when videos and pictures of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan were released online showing him visiting a religious shrine. This kicked off an entire debate discussing Khan’s personal beliefs and whether or not they are right. This is a huge violation of the boundaries set to respect an individual’s personal space. At the same time, we also understand the sensitivities of the religious groups in Pakistan. A minor difference can be construed in a variety of nefarious ways.

All the people who are indulging in questioning his actions from a religious standpoint must realize what they are doing – they are implying that his actions are heretical. Even in the liberal circles, there are many who otherwise promote religious tolerance and the space to practice one’s religion freely were debating Khan’s actions - pointing out that his actions are orthodox and will reinforce the same religious orthodoxy in the masses that follow him.

While people feel they are justified in questioning religious propriety – be it from any standpoint – they are essentially asserting that some practices are proper and some are not – and this is a very slippery slope to stand on. Blasphemy is a stone’s throw away from impropriety. Furthermore, we can be certain of the fact that if such a discussion started over the practices of politicians following other faith, it will fall squarely under the domain of discrimination and inflammatory speech.

The death of Mashal Khan and the former law minister Zahid Hamid leaving the country to save his life are recent examples of how easily things escalate in such sensitive matters. And while we are respecting Khan’s space to practice his beliefs freely, this should also be a lesson for the party to also refrain from politicising religion. It is time that our parties stop using religion as a tool because the end result is not beneficial for anyone.