Over the past many days the social media is outraged over the recent incidents of religious intolerance in India. For those who have managed to miss it, I am talking about the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, UP.  According to the news reports available the man was alleged to have slaughtered a cow and consumed its meat. Some extremists didn’t like this and decided to go and kill the poor guy and injured his son badly. Reactions from both sides then erupted, where a vast majority of people condemned the act and insisted that the culprits behind it be brought to justice immediately. Much politico point scoring was also carried out and all the bigwigs made a beeline towards the small inconspicuous Dadri to express ‘sympathies’ with the family and the Muslim community of the area. Since this incident, the police has made several arrests and many people are already under investigation.  At the same time a few human angle stories have also sprouted up. Non-Muslims have provided a safe passage to Muslims who were in danger, at great personal risk.

This incident, coupled with a few others related to the beef ban , has put the Muslim sympathizing people of Pakistan into some kind of frenzy.  Most of us feel personally betrayed at the grave intolerance which is taking place in India.  This has also given some people a free for all to bring in other Muslim victimization issues like the atrocities committed in Kashmir, the acts of Mukti Bahni in 1971, the Babri Masjid incident, etc.  However, what I didn’t see was anyone juxtaposing these incidents with those that have taken place in Pakistan in the recent past, like the lynching of the Christian couple last year, or the ongoing kidnapping and forced conversions of young Hindu girls mainly in Sindh. Then there was also the horrible incident of the destruction of the Ahmadi house on the instigation of a famous televangelist. How about the atrocities committed on Shias in this country day in and day out?  All of this is done on the basis of the religious beliefs. Political instigation, point scoring and even capital gains are motivations.

However, being the ‘introspective’ nation that we are, we like to be holier than thou when such incidents take place in India. We forget the 100 bomb blasts that have taken place in the mosques in our country since 2002. We overlook the fact that we have lost close to 4,000 people to sectarian violence in various incidents during this time. Numerous people have been displaced from their homes as a result of religious and sectarian intolerance.

For the moment let’s set aside the killings and the intolerance handed out to the marginalized communities. Let us talk about our daily lives. To this date, in most households there are separate utensils for the Christian or Hindu sweepers in which they are given water to drink. The non- Muslim community in Pakistan has shrunk to 2% from 20% in 1947. The vast majority will not even dream of getting one of theirs married into this community – and by vast I mean 99%.  At the same time intermarriages between Shias /Agha Khanis and Sunnis are also fast becoming a thing of the past.  Even when this does happen, either the bride, or the groom, has to ‘convert’ to the other’s ‘religion’. I must add that this kind of intolerance has grown over the current generation and is becoming more and more rampant as time goes by. There is no concept of a civil marriage beyond religions in our country. Lately, this distinction between the sects that is becoming more and more defined, has sadly penetrated schools and colleges.

Sectarian and religious intolerance has led Pakistan into turbulence and our perilous journey towards survival continues. If we use our recent history as a guide, introspect, and learn to become more tolerant, there is a chance that we may turn around as a nation and become progressive.   As for India: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”