Life is becoming too difficult in Pakistan for people who like to think.

If you have an opinion that differs from the mainstream, then be assured of being attacked by fanatics and their supporters. Recently, I was the subject of verbal vitriol for speaking out on a post on a social media platform. The post had a picture of a broken Hindu idol, with the caption asking, how will Hindus get their wishes now?

To me, as a human, it seemed blasphemous – taking the Islamic context in mind – as it was mocking the deity of another religion and I commented on the post as such. Within minutes my comment became the center of a heated debate and my beliefs, and indeed my loyalty to Pakistan started being questioned, since I chose to side with a minority. In the end, it became so bad that I even considered deleting these contacts from my Facebook list.

And the worst part of the deal was that the picture had been taken from a newspaper story from a year ago, and labelled as a recent one to show that the idol breaking ideal of Mahmood of Ghazna is still alive and kicking!

I learned a bitter lesson that day: agree with the majority (even if it is against your thinking) and you are considered a part of the clan, dare think or voice your own thoughts contrary to the general opinion, then you are labelled as rebellious. You should even be ready to be dubbed a non-believer, with the mildest of expected rebukes asking you to grow-up, especially if the topic has even the lightest of religious connation.

And if the issue is political, then get ready to be plastered with labels like undemocratic or pro-Khilafat, and being asked outright how you can support democracy (“budding democracy” is a favorite cliché in Pakistan, nowadays), and the military together. And the jewel in the crown is when the “liberal” or the “extremist/Taliban” mindset comes into play, after which you can expect anything, including open abuse.

Those who feel happy in insulting other religions and looking down upon the followers of these religions, are not only sick-minded but also self-centered: they should not complain when others do the same to them and their religion. The demolishing of Babari Masjid was a very condemnable act but the reaction in Pakistan was equally wrong. We have a history where people have been killed in the name of blasphemy, but hardly ever has it been proved that any one of them had been guilty as charged.

A very common comment is that those speaking for these ‘blasphemous people’ are working for the Jewish lobby, and we have seen prominent political figures murdered in cold blood. If this were true then I would say that the Ummah gets the biggest benefit from this lobby for they act deaf, dumb and blind and cannot resolve the crises of Kashmir, Palestine, and Bosnia where Muslims are downtrodden. It appears that they must have taken a handsome bribe for turning their faces away from these conflicts, otherwise they would have opened the doors to the Syrian refugees stranded in the middle of nowhere.

These so called “thekedars” of religion never condemn the atrocities carried out on the non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan; and those who were eager to label me a liberal and a kafir hadn’t written a single word against the burning of the Christian couple in the kiln in Kasur, or against the various church and gurdawara attacks.

When the Shia sect and Hazaras of Quetta were brutally murdered their Islamism did not wake up. Although they kept chanting “Islam zinda hota hai har karbala kay bad”, but failed to produce any practical proof of their emotional chants. If they post their reference from scriptures they expect us to believe them, but if we give a reference from the holy book we are told we are quoting out of context!

Kashmir, Myanmar, Palestinian and similar crises are a recurrent part of such debates and have been treated as barometers for measuring your loyalty towards Islam and Muslims. Interesting measure, this, right? But how come this measure is ineffective when it comes to corruption, sectarian issues, Talibanization, drinking alcohol, child abuse, rape, target killing, etc.?  

We so often quote the scriptures that say that killing one person without a reason is akin to killing all of humanity, but its application is selective. How difficult is it to understand? Islam is being maligned by no one but us. Many people say that even the Taliban have not damaged Islam as much as we have.

And what about the common malaise of wanting a green card, leading a good life in the land of opportunities, owning the latest gizmos like laptops, iPods, iPhones, being imported from foreign lands, all the while sitting in the drawing room discussing Yahood-o-Nasara as enemies of Islam?

We have turned not only into hypocrites but parasites that live of others and cause harm to them, even to other Muslims. I by choice try to be the last person to bring religion into my discussions and relationship. Having lived abroad I have seen the best of people – they always helped us in the worst of times.

On the other hand, of the “thekedars” of Islam, who keep throwing religion and their morality in the faces of all people, I would say that even if they were the last people on earth I would not look to them for any help, even if my survival depended on it.