Sectarian violence continues to consume the lives of innocent citizens. It must be clear that this is not the case of two equally violent armed groups, from two opposing ideologies, engaged in battle in every nook and corner of the country. There are aggressors and there are victims. The Shia community has for decades now, been on the receiving end of actions of those who subscribe to the Takfiri ideology – which views members of other sects and religions as infidels deserving of God’s wrath and they, the ‘real’ believers, taking it upon themselves to implement God’s will. These minorities, Muslim and non-Muslim, watched in horror as peace talks were being conducted with terrorists who consider them infidels. As predicted, the talks failed, and now action has begun. The blast at an Imambargah at Rawalpindi, the target killing of Dr Asim in Peshawar and hundreds of similar incidents ought to rule out any possibility of reconciliation or co-existence with the perpetrators, reaffirming the decision to fight against terrorism no matter how unacceptable that may be to the likes of Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Siraj-ul-Haq.

Sectarian hate will not be curbed until the state identifies and acts against elements that promote it. How many seminaries preach violence against the state like the TTP is currently doing? A minority. How many seminaries preach hate against Shias, Ahmadis, Christians and Jews? The number grows astronomically. And that is where the challenge lies. What is the state going to do to tackle these proponents of hate which do not neatly fit into the category of “hardcore”, “jet black” terrorists? Following the Peshawar incident, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been more open about voicing concerns against sectarianism and expressing the resolve to tackle this menace. Does that mean that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will no longer turn a blind eye towards sectarian elements? Should the people now be certain that politics and elections will not prompt Rana Sanaullah to - at the behest of the PML-N leadership - embrace those whose sole agenda is vilification and victimization of the ‘wrong’ kind of Muslims? Will the security establishment too, cease to patronize such elements as it has done so for decades? During his address to the nation, PM Sharif had said that the blood of the children who were brutally murdered in the Army Public School has drawn a clear line. Has it? The leadership of banned sectarian outfits is still roaming around freely as their ‘parties’ operate openly. Some well-meaning individuals suggest that we shouldn’t overburden the state. It should first act against the TTP and other groups that are waging a war against it, and then the state could proceed towards taking the rest to task. One wonders what the family members of Dr Asim have to say about this excellent strategy.