There are quite a few individuals and groups that strongly believe that Pakistan should be a secular state. A number of groups insist that only through a secular state can the issue of intolerance be dealt with. That, however, is not the case. While it is true that a secular state would mean that all individuals are equal regardless of their faith in the eyes of the state, achieving this perception of equality amongst the masses would still remain an issue.

Religious intolerance is bred not by state policies but by mindsets that refuse to be changed. The state only increases or reduces the degree of this intolerance by its policies. The Pakistani Constitution, for example, by openly marginalizing members of the Ahmadiyya community ensures that intolerance amongst individuals from different faiths plagues our society severely. The fact that a religious group, that was once part of the Muslim majority, is now a marginalized minority reflects the fact that the state, in fact, encourages the creation of religious minorities.

At this, two arguments can be presented. The first argument is that the state is solely responsible for the creation of minorities and that had the state been powerful enough, it would ensure the protection of its minorities. The second argument is that it is not the state but the mindset of the people that has led to Pakistani becoming such an intolerant, hostile society. Both arguments are correct.

We are so obsessed with the idea of rewards and punishment in the hereafter that we get blinded by our faith. We refuse to look at the world, or religion for that matter, from another’s perspective. We are so afraid of what the hereafter might hold for us that we refuse to admit the fact that someone else might be practising the ‘right’ faith and we may be wrong. In the process of trying to distinguish the right and wrong faith, we forget the basic rights and wrongs of life. We forget the need for compassion and humility. We forget the need for humanity to prevail over everything else. We forget the fact that a human life is more sacred than any religious scripture. In the process of trying to find the ‘right path’, we end up killing people in the name of God and take pride in it.

When individuals in a society have such a mindset, it then becomes the responsibility of the state to ensure that it takes all measures necessary to reduce the tension between groups. That, however, has not happened in Pakistan. The creation of minorities has been something that the country has been supporting since its creation. The Ahmadiyya community faced these issues before being excommunicated from Islam. The Shia community is experiencing similar problem now. While the government itself hasn’t taken any steps to make the Shia community a minority, it hasn’t taken the necessary steps to ensure that the community is not treated like a minority.

Making Pakistan a secular state would help only if the masses became tolerant towards other religions. Secularism is never the solution to religious intolerance otherwise the chaos that India is experiencing currently wouldn’t have been there.