The cold-blooded assassination of Khurram Zaki, a civil society activist and human rights defender, unequivocally defies all narratives adopted for eradication of religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan. Despite receiving life threats from religious extremists, the Federal and Provincial Governments’ failure in providing him security further exposes the intention of the government in taking decisive action against perpetrators. Understandably, Khurram Zaki’s years’ long struggle against all forms of discrimination, religious hatred, bigotry, intolerance and schism in the name of factional and communal differences; represented the views and support of the mainstream Pakistani society. Silencing human rights defenders in the country endorses covert support to the religious extremists and terrorists.
The government’s half-hearted response in ridding the country of religious extremism, intolerance and terrorism is a shame. Such cold response shall only consolidate its dismal human rights record. The government has completely failed to prosecute the convicted terrorists who are successfully running their terrorist activities from within prisons in Pakistan. Similarly, the release of leaders of banned terrorists organisations from prisons have further deteriorated the security situation.
After the bomb explosion in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore on 28th March this year, it was expected that a full-scale operation against religious extremists would be launched in southern Punjab but, unfortunately, this operation was diverted towards the so-called dacoits. In essence, the operation ended with no fruition at all. The federal and Punjab governments’ unwillingness in starting operation clean-up against religious extremists in southern Punjab, approves their official support for the latter. Hence, the emboldened terrorist activities of religious extremists have plagued the rest of the country resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent lives.
The Pakistani government should stop its exploitative tactics which will further enhance the feeling of deprivation among other citizens and start a full-scale Punjab-wide operation against religious extremists, their sympathizers and supporters.