Even Galileo responded to his prosecutors’ allegations, regardless of the fact that he was executed. His spoken truth remains truth, the Earth continues to rotate around the Sun; that was Dr. Shakil Auj’s response to his colleagues’ advice to tone down his enlightened and inter-sectarian harmony drive. Dr. Shakil was gunned down in broad daylight in Karachi, in an attempt to silence another preacher of peace and religious tolerance, who was out to show the true face of dark forces who worked against a peace-loving religion.

The modus operandi of the attackers has not changed; accuse the target of committing blasphemy, by issuing a fatwa, creating an atmosphere of hatred to justify the eventual murder. Dr. Shakil was the Dean of Islamic Studies at University of Karachi, author of numerous books on Islam, and taught tolerance in a multicultural society. He translated the Holy Quran, and was silenced forever by those who want to make Pakistan (literal meaning, the Land of the Pure) pure as per their interpretation. These dark forces are dismantling Pakistan brick by brick, as professionals, academics, intellectuals, and the flag-bearers of tolerance are either leaving the country or being systematically eliminated.

September 18 was a sad and bleak day for a tolerant Pakistan; but a bright day for those who take pride in killing innocent people in the disguise of blasphemy accusations. Is there anyone brave enough to question the Karachi seminary, which issued the fatwa to announce Dr. Shakil as ‘Wajib-ul-Qatal’ ‘liable to be murdered’ in our country? Pakistan has reached this stage, not solely because of dark forces, but because of silence of most of us, who fail to speak out. It’s your turn to speak out, before they get you!


Saudi Arab, September 19.