A sec­u­lar Pak­istan

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL - Mehreen Naveed Sid­dique

SEC­U­LAR­ISM in Pak­istan' - a rather new and con­tentious topic, is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity at a rapid rate, no­tably with the youth of our na­tion. In to­day's dig­i­tal age; in­for­ma­tion about any sub­ject can be eas­ily ac­cessed with a quick google search, with ' sec­u­lar­ism' be­ing no ex­cep­tion. What are the rea­sons be­hind this change of think­ing? Is a sec­u­lar Pak­istan achiev­able? Sur­pris­ingly, a vast ma­jor­ity of in­di­vid­u­als do con­cur with the con­cept of sec­u­lar­ism - some­what due to the crim­i­nal and un­eth­i­cal acts car­ried out in the name of re­li­gion by mem­bers of so­ci­ety. Th­ese peo­ple then pre­sume that the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by the rad­i­cals are in line with Is­lamic teach­ings. This con­vic­tion is fur­ther re­in­forced when th­ese peo­ple are ex­posed to western pro­pa­ganda op­pos­ing Is­lam. This leads to a feel­ing of am­bi­gu­ity and con­fu­sion. Re­li­gion may then be per­ceived as a neg­a­tive facet of so­ci­ety which needs to be erad­i­cated from all political and/or so­cioe­co­nomic affairs. Th­ese peo­ple may then adopt a sec­u­lar at­ti­tude.

Not to men­tion, a cou­ple of in­di­vid­u­als do in­deed mis­use Is­lamic Law in or­der to achieve their ul­te­rior mo­tives. For in­stance, one may de­sire tak­ing vengeance from one's foe, this can be eas­ily ac­com­plished by fil­ing a false po­lice re­port for blas­phemy un­der the ' Hu­dood Or­di­nance'. As a re­sult, one's en­emy could eas­ily land in prison or be sen­tenced to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. More­over, the anti-blas­phemy law is very of­ten mis­used and ends up en­dan­ger­ing religious mi­nori­ties of Pak­istan.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant rea­son for the sec­u­lar­iza­tion of to­day's Pak­istani youth is the in­flu­ence that the west has on them. In western cul­tures, re­li­gion is not deemed to be such an in­te­gral part of an in­di­vid­ual's life as it is in Pak­istani cul­ture. With the ad­vent of the in­ter­net, young peo­ple from Pak­istan are able to com­mu­ni­cate with those in other parts of the globe and views on a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject may be ex­changed and de­vel­oped.

The western education re­ceived by the youth also con­trib­utes to the rise of sec­u­lar­ism. Also, young peo­ple may get in­flu­enced by westerners be­long­ing to sec­u­lar states and their cul­ture, and de­velop the be­lief that western cul­ture is su­pe­rior and that a sec­u­lar mind­set is cru­cial for pros­per­ity.

It is ob­vi­ous that in some ar­eas of Pak­istan, the per­se­cu­tion of religious mi­nori­ties is en­demic. Is­lam grants non-Mus­lims the right to prac­tice any re­li­gion of their choice and for­bids Mus­lims from dis­re­spect­ing their be­liefs and/or in­ter­fer­ing in their religious affairs. How­ever, it is un­de­ni­able that some Mus­lims do not fol­low this teach­ing. Non-Mus­lims, there­fore sup­port the con­cept of sec­u­lar­ism as they be­lieve that the dis­crim­i­na­tion they face will be elim­i­nated from so­ci­ety if sec­u­lar­ism is im­ple­mented. It would also help pro­tect peo­ple who do not hold any religious be­liefs.

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