In stark contrast to the recurrent reports of intolerance and faith-based hatred that have dominated the narrative on Pakistan’s socio-cultural constitution, the much appreciated progressive and evenhanded undertaking by the Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to uphold the rights and qualms of the Hindu minorities is a refreshing precedent.

Where the Speaker took due notice of the issue, his diligence in seeking an inquiry into the matter as well as issuing a case against the culprits sets the example that violating the rights and dignities of minorities, especially Hindus, cannot be tolerated.

The social media onslaught against the Hindu community, which has been solely instigated as a political smearing campaign has given rise to a wave of hate speech online against the community, maligning the religious sentiments of more than four million Hindus living in Pakistan. The blasphemous content and desecration of images revered by the Hindu community, resulting in a slew of online faith-based hatred, is an issue that must be addressed by the establishment and the Speaker taking notice is a step in the right direction. It makes way for the assertion that where our draconian blasphemy laws are routinely misused to persecute minorities, the beliefs and rituals of other communities in our midst must be held sacrosanct by the same token. Where religious intolerance and oppression against minorities is a malignant societal ill, the Muslim-Hindu dialectic is another dimension that lends itself to the persecution of minorities rampant on both sides of the border. As evinced by the recent wave of intolerance in India against the Dalit community as well as other religious minority groups, particularly Muslims, such intolerance is widespread, where communities are demonized by political agendas, hardline Hindu groups, pro-government media and state officials.

Pakistan needs to set itself apart from India and use all applicable resources like the cyber laws to punish the perpetrators. It should also behoove all political parties to categorically condemn such hate-mongering and ensure that their social media wings as well as loyalists refrain from stooping to such an inflammatory rhetoric in a bid to cast shade at rivaling parties. With the election season upon us, it is crucial that political parties respect the dignities of all those involved as well as of the people, irrespective of faith and origin.