The ever-increasing phenomenon of extremism in the country is an existential threat to the country, which is more hostile than any external menace but the state of Pakistan is either in denial or complicit in the never-ending saga of crimes against its own citizens. We always took the easier route of accusing the ever elusive foreign hand for each and every terrorist attack ruling out any possibility of looking inward, weeding out those who need to be taken to task, and thus addressing serious systemic weaknesses plunging us deeper and deeper into chaos. It took the state of Pakistan innumerable terrorist attacks, which killed over 50,000 of its own citizens, and a brazen attack on the Army Public school in Peshawar that left more than 130 schoolchildren dead, to come up with a plan against subversive terrorism in the country. Whilst the 20-point national action aimed at countering terrorism looked fine on paper, it never got going and has quietly faded away.

Karachi, home to at least 20 million people, has often seen incidents of targeted attacks on political, ethnic and sectarian grounds. In one of the most organized and ruthless attacks in the city’s history at least 46 people, including 18 women, were killed and 15 others wounded when gunmen stormed a bus carrying members of the Ismaili Shia community on a busy road in Karachi. The attack was yet another stark reminder that nobody – absolutely nobody – who differs from the narrow, distorted brand of Islam propagated by the terrorists is safe in Pakistan. Like any other terrorist attack, this massacre too was followed by the rhetorical press-releases condemning the attack, high-level meetings, and some vague promises - devoid of any concrete action plan - vowing to come down hard on the purveyors of hate. But there has never been any realistic plan to fulfill such promises. Bizarrely enough, after each such attack, the state resorts to the clerics, peddling hatred as a religious obligation, to inculcate sectarian and interfaith harmony in the society. The ludicrous exercise always reminds me of a couplet written by legendary Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir:

Mir kya sada hain, beemar huey jis kay sabab

Usi attar kay londay sey dawa latay hain

(What a simpleton is Mir, that he still goes for remedy to the son of the same quack, who had been the very cause of his illness).

This bloodbath too is destined to sink into oblivion and, sooner or later, we’ll be mourning another tragedy.

If the state has any intent to make inroads into terrorist organizations, a concentrated effort is imperative to acknowledge, scrutinize and debunk the tenets of the ideology that provides terrorists with a framework for action, motivation and justification of their ruthless acts. There are no two ways about the fact that the most virulent terrorist groups operating in Pakistan are inspired by the fundamentalist Deoband brand of Islam. Be it the Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba or Jundullah, all these groups share the same sectarian beliefs, source their members from Deobandi madrassas and have the same ideological goals. Time and again these groups have, claimed responsibility for carrying out attacks on the Shia community, denounced the victims as “infidels”, and made it very clear that they were engaged in a “war of belief” with Shias - adding that attacks against them would continue until Shias, in their millions, were wiped out of Pakistan. Blaming India’s spy agency RAW for each and every terrorist attack can be a good choice for an ostrich-like response but it is definitely not going to combat the religious extremism that is gripping our society like never before.

On one side Shias are being wilfully massacred for practicing a faith that is disapproved by the radical Deobandis and on the other side the misleading and malicious propaganda, that not only Shias, everyone is being targeted, obfuscates the systematic killing of the members of Shia community. There is enough hate material available online and offline against Shias, that declares them infidel and thus liable to be killed. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that who is peddling this hate campaign against Shias in particular and other minorities in general.

A militarised strategy to curb the killings can provide short-term benefits but the state has to choke the funding to the seminaries and groups urging the killing of the persecuted religious communities in the name of Allah. Overcoming the state of denial is the first and foremost step if we as a nation intend to move ahead but quite appallingly we have been adamant to quell any attempt that could lead us to this very first step. The state of Pakistan needs to give the RAW-destabilizing-Pakistan rhetoric a break and to devise a plan to conduct a purge, single out these vile elements and oust them from the heart of our society before they strike again.

On August 9, 2013, a major terrorism attempt was foiled when a suicide bomber stormed into a mosque and Imambargah in the federal capital Islamabad on Eid day after Friday prayers. The attacker was killed by the security guard, Amin Hussain, before he could explode himself. Hussain saved a number of lives, but his own life was not one of them. Hussain had been shot and fatally wounded before he killed the attacker. The would-be suicide bomber was later identified as Zakaullah, resident of Chak No. 239-JB, Tehsil Bhawana, District Chiniot. Zakaullah was wearing a suicide jacket with eight kilograms of explosive material and eight kilograms of pellets, enough to blow up the Imambargah and mosque and its adjacent houses, causing multiple casualties.

Almost 2 years on, you might have forgotten the terrorist attack, Zakaullah the bomber and Amin Hussain, the unsung hero who laid down his life - averted a major tragedy - and left behind a widow and four sons, the youngest of whom was only a year-and-a-half old when the attack was foiled. But my humble appeal to the people at the helm of affairs, who have been telling the nation for decades that RAW is destabilizing my country, is to at least unveil the connection between RAW and Zakaullah. Maybe a couple of pictures, if taken, or a statement by the doctor who conducted his biopsy, revealing that Zakaullah was uncircumcised and in fact was a Hindu by faith who received military training from RAW, would suffice. So that the white lie being fed to the people of Pakistan, that the terrorists have no religion, could be adjusted accordingly.