A tragedy that made every Pakistani’s heart bleed, recently: we put to eternal rest, more than 60 dead bodies of our fellow countrymen in Quetta. Soon afterwards, an attack on a religious meeting of Shias took place, which claimed the lives of 5 people and left several injured.

 The occurrence of such incidents is a ruthless reminder of the existence of evil forces within our society, which need to be eradicated at all level. Yet, we see these fanatics roaming around freely without any resistance from law enforcement agencies. Once again, they seem to be invited to help those hidden hands who pull their strings, to attain their goals.

A few days ago, a banned religious organization, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (notorious for inciting hatred among masses) conducted a public meeting and protests in Islamabad despite the fact that Section-144 had been imposed to maintain law and order in the federal capital. The hate mongering leader of ASWJ, Ahmed Ludhianvi, stepped into the dispute between Imran Khan (Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf) and the Government, which indicates turmoil for those who ostensibly have their heads in the clouds.

Because they did not comprehend the repercussions of giving birth to the demon of religious extremism – first in collaboration with United States to fight against Soviet Union, and then to crimp India, for example, in Kashmir – Pakistani policy makers are already bumping along the bottom. There are more than 30,000 known religious seminaries in Pakistan and almost all of them can thank the rich Saudis and their stooges in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, for their existence. The money that’s given in the name of charity to the administrations of these religious schools has actually got strings attached to it.

The clergy who run these seminaries are presented with unprecedented influence and luxury in the Pakistani society, with the promise of promoting the Saudi or, in case of the Shia seminaries, the Iranian ideology. Millions and millions of the pupils of these seminaries are then trained to serve as God’s army, and a moral brigade in the society, while the military establishment of Pakistan controls a precious chunk of these mujahideen to set their scores with enemy states like India.

Ironically, no genius among these smocking aces among Pakistan’s defense think-tanks are able to understand that states can satisfy their grudge against enemy states without using religious extremists. Almost every state in the world has enemies or, let’s say, rival states, but many of the big guns in this game don’t use so-called non-state actors to pursue their venomous ambitions against enemies. China, India, Russia, or United States of Europe can be given as some prominent examples of this phenomenon.

They are disillusioned when they aim at the destruction of their own moderate and progressive country. And, yet, the world also already knows their game and their enemies have started repaying them in the same currency, using the same demons – which are now hated in Pakistan – known as (allegedly Indian sponsored) the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Pakistani society, by and large, has experienced the worst of terror while witnessing what happens when such fanatics are given the authority to exercise their will over the local population. Not long ago, we experienced this nightmare when Pakistan’s vocational paradise fell into the hands of the Taliban. We were devastated, but could not act accordingly, when those religious fanatics committed vicious crimes against the innocent people of Pakistan in the name of sharia. They conducted a number of targeted assassinations of police officers, tribal leaders and politicians. The green chowk was known as the slaughter chowk of Mingora, where Taliban used to dump the dead bodies of their indocile subjects and executed them publically. Moreover, under their version of sharia law, they outlawed any form of entertainment, compelled non-Muslims to pay heavy taxes, punished people for listening to music, shaving their hair and moustaches, killed apostates, and stoned people for committing adultery.

They hit the last nail in the coffin by banning girls education completely, forced women to veil their faces, and literally stoned women who were accused of adultery. They didn’t seem to stop at anything – until their control over the region was toppled and the people of Swat heaved a sigh of relief.

Apparently, today we don’t see such fanatics in power but the same dread seems to have returned amongst the public. We see them walking and spilling hatred in the street and on the television, day in and day out. They brainwash our youth in the guise of discussion and dictation, and setting a parameter for social moral values, specifically regarding women’s social behavior and the subjugation of minorities’ rights to their will.

Orya Maqbool, a well-known Pakistani (so-called) scholar, now seems to have taken up the task of radicalizing the viewers by spreading hate and prejudice against minorities, sects, and women. One day, he discussed a mobile ad while pointing out the right angle of cameraman which aimed at exposing and exhibiting women’s figure, in a highly vulgar manner. Then, in the name of religion, he strongly advised women to be confined in their homes, and men to take charge by beating them ‘lightly’. Recently, on the issue of women driving motorcycles, he crossed all his limits. Being obsessed with the serial killers of the West and their sadistic motives, he expressed his frustrated views about women in a rather offensive manner.

It is a shame to hear such comments about our own daughters and sisters who are breaking stereotypes and reclaiming their rightful place in the social spectrum. In a live TV show (Harf-e-raaz) which was telecasted on 29 May 2016, the anchor questioned Orya Maqbool’s argument randomly. Instead of giving him a straight answer, he demonstrated the nature of an extremist religious fanatic. He also declared the poor anchor a blasphemer, forthwith. In another programme, Orya Maqbool claimed that non-Muslim will remain second class citizens in Pakistan, no matter what their social, economical and political status is. Moreover, he justified violence against the Ahmadiyya community of Pakistan, by declaring them bluntly as non-Muslims.

Hatred and intolerance are successfully being fostered by such fanatics in our society where any Muslim can hold other Muslims and non-Muslims as blasphemers and wage war against them, which is seemingly as attractive to them as the desire of gaining Paradise after slaying innocent human beings. Undoubtedly it is a matter of grave concerned when Aurya and the people who share his thoughts are being invited on the TV and rallies for propagating their hate and prejudice in the mind of the Pakistani people.

Zaid Hamid is a well known hate-preacher who comes on the tv and provokes the Pakistani youth for taking the law into their own hands and establishing a state within state. But he, ironically, remains overlooked.

Such so-called religious scholars are explaining Islamic laws and state laws in a confusing manner, according to which any objection can lead to the accusation of blasphemy, and, afterwards, extra-judicial killings. But according to a very well-known Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir, one should be given respect merely for having a beard irrespective of his deeds. One may keep such advice reserved to themselves, since the Devil cannot be welcomed in any way, even in disguise.

When freedom of thought is being caged-in by the so-called intelligentsia of Pakistan, there is near silence and a sense of emptiness among the masses which pave the way for the eradication of humanity from the country. Our law enforcement agencies and media should be kicking this radicalism to the curb if they want to ensure a bright future for a moderate Pakistan. Thus, we can bring peace, equality, justice, protection, dignity, cultural inter- and intra-faith harmony home to the people of this country. Any other option would lead us to a delusional paradise.