Most of us remember the Pakistan of 60s and 70s; there is no comparison to what our lives have become now. Bombing girls’ schools, targeting polio workers, killing of religious and sectarian opponents, mobs ready to lynch anyone on blasphemy charges, even those advocating or acquitting a blasphemy victim and even resorting to forcibly converting females of minority groups. There is no sanctity of places of worship, be they mosques, shrines, mandirs or churches. Targeting health centers, school assemblies and funeral processions, these are all the hallmark of today’s Pakistan! Sadly of all this is happening in the name of religion.

The Pakistan of 60s and 70s was not a fearful place, because religious extremists and their supportive clergy were not powerful to challenge the writ of the state. A peaceful and progressive country was completely turned around in the 80’s when the state interfered in religion. After fighting so-called jihads in the neighboring countries, these fanatics turned their guns on their very creators. But the main victim is the general public; being killed and maimed on a daily basis.

Looking for help to counter these gun-toting gangs, one may turn to religious leaders, the so called Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), to show the righteous path to fanatics. But unfortunately, the CII is busy deliberating on the appropriate age for the marriage of girls, and whether the first wife’s consent is needed on a second marriage. These issues seem more important than stopping militants from killing innocent people. Please return to us, the liberal and progressive Pakistan of 60s and 70s.

MASOOD KHAN,

Saudi Arab, May 23.