While Pakistan decries and declaims against the mistreatment of Muslims in India and their suppression in Kashmir, incidents like Ghotki show that the seeds of the same kind of communal violence exist this side of the border as well. Certainly no one was lynched nor was anyone hurt, but the religiously charged crowd that had been looking for a Hindu professor accused of blasphemy was definitely out with dangerous intentions.

Fortunately the nature of communal violence in Pakistan is much different from India. Decades of Hindu nationalist propaganda has turned the common Indian man into a wound up spring, ready to unleash merciless violence at a moment’s notice, which they have countless times in the past few years. In Pakistan, such incidents are instigated by fringe religious hardliners who use the violence for material and political gain. Seldom do spontaneous instances of communal violence break out – there is always a hidden hand of the instigator, which should make them easier to identify and neutralize.

Be it Gujranwala, Youhanabad, or Mardan University, malicious elements were always found stoking tensions. In Ghotki too, known religious fundamentalists were found to be leading the charge. Northern Sindh has been plagued by this group for far too long, which has used religion to push its petty political ambitions; it is time this was put to an end.

So far it seems the law enforcement agencies have been quite proactive, Ghotki police registered three cases against rioters who had taken to the streets; one under Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class) and the other two for rioting and unlawful assembly. The professor the mob was searching for has been kept safe in an undisclosed location. However, making the arrest of the real instigators and their eventual prosecution will be the true marker of success – this is the stage where most cases involving mobs fall apart.

Pakistan’s civil society and local politicians must be commended for reacting quickly to the scene and standing in solidarity with the local Hindu community. It will take much more than shows of support to heal the wounds of the area but this is a start.

There is no space for communal violence or vigilantism in Pakistan, the authorities must stamp this fact into the mindsets of those who still believe otherwise. Pakistan has the chance to differentiate itself from the senseless violence taking place across the border, and in doing so set the nation down a path of tolerance and coexistence. Only swift and exemplary justice delivered on those who vandalized the Hindu temple can that.