S:     98% of people in Pakistan believe that a belief in God is essential to morality. The same is true for only 20% of people in Britain.

A:     People in the West are misguided. We live much more moral lives here. And it is because of religion.

S:     Do you really mean that?

A:     Yes, we drink less, we party less, we have less illicit relationships, we are more spiritual, care for our elders more…

S:     But we have more terrorism, more killing, less respect for life and property, more corruption, less rights, less tolerance for minorities…

A:     If you put it that way, we are just comparing apples and oranges.

S:     No, we are not. A human being is a human being whether he lives in Multan or Manhattan. Nations with religion as a personal and not a public matter, have fared much better with regards to human rights and economy.

A:     That’s not exactly true. Americans also consider religion to play an important role in their lives.

S:     And you loathe the Americans for being bigoted imperialists. Except for the US, wealthier nations are also less religious. We have to make the distinction in our minds that religion doesn’t need to be part of politics or economics.

A:     I don’t think that can happen in our society. With a broken system of law and order, religious piety is the only thing that stops people from killing one another. The fear of God is a great motivator for good behaviour.

S:     Firstly, why does it have to be fear of God, can’t it be for the love of God? We are so terrified of hell, that we are ready to declare people kafir right, left and centre. While the discourse can easily be one of tolerance, where you do the best for one another for heavenly reward. Has no war-loving mullah ever thought that? And secondly, if we refrain from committing crime because we are scared of what God might do to us, rather than because it is wrong ethically as it hurts a fellow human… then we are in a much deeper moral crisis than I thought.