As 8000 Sikhs gather to commemorate the 545th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, there is justifiable concern for their safety in the wake of incidents such as the one in Rawalpindi. It is heartening to see that 4000 of these pilgrims have been allowed to visit from outside of Pakistan; there are at least a few things we can do right. The government has announced that 700 security personnel have been made available to protect them; one can only hope that no untoward incident takes place. In a country like this though, hope does not come easy. If we look at the numbers, there is one security officer for eleven Sikhs currently, but we all know even that can fall short in a place like this.

Recently the government also revealed that over the past three years, Rs 123 million has been spent on development programs for the minorities, which includes security arrangements made for places of worship across the country. There is no measure to guarantee whether this sum is accurate, or even if the money was used where it was needed most. Generators, walk-in metal detectors and other security measures such as barbed wires and the like have been bought with these funds, but experience has taught us that even these tools are insignificant. As a population, we remain just as intolerant as ever. Also, it must be noted that such gestures by the government remain an anomaly and inadequate, considering that it is becoming increasingly rare to see the government invest energy in any issues that endanger minority rights and security across Pakistan. As a political move, it is explained as cowardice, but as far as humanity and responsibility goes, it can only be classified a dismal failure to take necessary action that guarantees long-term safety.

No matter what the security mechanisms, even if increased tenfold, they will just not be enough. The fact remains that those targeting and tormenting minorities continue to exist with impunity. Hate-filled speeches, bigoted manifestos, intolerant dogmas, all continue to flourish without check. Unless those that peddle such mischief and malice are either bought within the bounds of the written laws of Pakistan, or taught to think differently, nothing will change. Those that call this country their home, protection of life and property is just a myth. A travesty it is, yet we all look on and remain silent.