Anam Javed

Priyantha Kumara Diyawadanage, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan had come to Pakistan in search of a better career opportunity in 2010, leaving home his wife and two sons. Just like any working-class immigrant, Kumara too worked a disciplined life as an Export Manager for Rajco industries until the despair morning of 3rd December 2021.

In an attempt to white-wash the factory for a visiting delegation, Kumara had instructed his subordinates to remove stickers from work property. To Kumara’s bad luck, the stickers in question belonged to an extremist religious party, TLP Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, and read religious verses. When the factory workers refused to act upon their manager’s clear instructions, Kumara took it upon himself to tear the stickers down. Whether or not did Kumara know about the complexities of religious fanaticism is a question that no longer matters as he suffered the worst possible. The factory workers were furious at the tearing down of a poster with religious verses, that too by a man of a different faith, hence accused Kumara of blasphemy. What accusing a person of blasphemy in Pakistan means is no secret and the events that followed are all well known until Kumara’s body lay on the streets of Sialkot, tortured, broken, and burnt.

The devotees of religious extremism and mob culture are a minor part of Pakistan, yet enough to make a person accused of blasphemy be killed before trial. However, the general public that learned about this incident later that day mourned this display of utter brutality. Prime Minister, Imran Khan condemned the horrific murder of Mr. Kumara and stated that he is personally overlooking the investigations and will ensure punishment with the full severity of law to deliver justice to the deceased’s family. Moreover, the Prime Minister also said that he spoke with the Sri Lankan President Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa to convey “the nation’s shame and anger to the people of Sri Lanka.” To shed light on this unfortunate event, the PM addressed the nation in the parliament and said that the business community in Sialkot has collected $100,000 for Mr. Kumara’s family. The deceased’s family will also continue to receive his salary.

The PM announced an honorary award, Tamgha-e-Juraat, for Adnan Malik, the factory worker who tried to protect Kumara. Malik used his body to shield Kumara from the enraged mob, knowing that this could cost him his own life. Where a mob hypnotized by rage and hatred put the nation to shame on international media, people like Malik are also a representation of courage and veracity of Pakistanis. The PM praised Mr. Malik’s efforts, calling him a “role model for the nation.” The PM highlighted the status of the beloved Prophet (PBUH) as “Rehmat-ul-Alimeen” stressing that he (PBUH) was a source of mercy for all mankind and not just Muslims. The PM warned that this event should mark an end to committing violence behind the facade of unproven blasphemy allegations and committing brutality in the name of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). The PM promulgated the establishment of the “Rehmut-ul-Alimeen Authority” to preach to the youth about the teachings of Islam and the life of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Furthermore, the PM emphasized that the best possible way to prove one’s devotion to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is by living life in essence to the teachings of Islam and his sunnah.

Pakistanis never fail to amaze the world with the bipolarity of their behavior. Often we see viral videos of an occasional white tourist in Pakistan rambling about their wonderful traveling experience and the heart-warming hospitality of the locals and other times we make it to global news for cold-blooded mob-lynching. It seems as though our emotions can either be our greatest strength or our biggest weakness, depending on the circumstances. This bipolarity of behavior reflects the dire need for guidance and support for the youth of Pakistan. Section 295-B and 295-C are laws concerning blasphemy in Pakistan that make any person liable to physical and monetary punishments if they commit a derogatory act (verbal or physical) against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). However, accusing a person of blasphemy in Pakistan wreaks havoc for the accused and often means death, regardless of a person’s social, economic, or political status. One could be a low-wage income worker, an immigrant factory manager, or a governor, the accusation of blasphemy spares none. In the history of all blasphemy cases in Pakistan, no case makes it to court before religious fanatics take law into their own hands.

This cult of impulsive extremists is often misguided by traitorous political parties and hostile forces since a person truly devoted to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would know that he was a man of peace. The blasphemy law has often been manipulated and misused for supporting political agendas, creating social unrest, or merely for settling personal scores. Therefore, with the commencement of Rehmat-ul-Alimeen authority, there is a ray of hope for an enlightened and tolerant future.

Pakistan has been in the news for several years due to the war against terrorism in the country. Such events of intolerance and violence exacerbate Pakistan’s struggle to maintain a positive image in international media. Despite the occurrence of such an unfortunate event in the country, there is a large chunk of the nation mourning it! Various celebrities and significant public figures condemned this horrific incident and even offered public apologies full of regret, anger and shame to the people of Sri Lanka. However, it remains utterly significant that the government takes strict action against those engaging in hostile activities that damage our reputation and foreign relationships.

Reemphasizing the PM’s stance, Pakistan is the only country created in the name of Islam, and the sanctity of its foundation and ideology must be protected at all costs. Pakistanis have a responsibility to live up to Islam’s message of peace and tolerance. The prime minister’s famous dream of turning the nation into an exemplary society like that of Riyasat-e-Medina requires a great deal of effort. The government must employ strict policies to protect the rights of minorities, immigrants, religious groups, and social outcasts with law enforcement agencies announcing deterrent punishments for those who do not abide by them. The white part of our national flag is a representation of protection and acceptance of minorities in our country, therefore, we must work tirelessly towards a tolerant future.

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