DAWN.com The massive tragedy that has shaken the robust Punjab town of Gojra where a Christian and Muslim population lived peacefully for the last 60 years side by side has again raised the huge and repulsive spectre of terrorism, taleban style,religious zealotry gory style and the deep polarisation of false ideologies ingrained in Pakistani society after the Zia era and the Afghan jehad.
In the quiet of night on a normal day, about 45 houses were burnt in a village of Koriyan ,some 8 km from Gojra. As most of the men were away on some police inquiry after an incident of blasphemous religious act was reported in this village in a Christian wedding.A group of masked men entered the village and literally burnt it down. They all escaped unhindered. The next day everything except on tv channel(Express TV) was reporting this incident. All the other channels were busy reporting the judges case. The BBC and CNN were amazingly quiet on this issue. the next day a mob of about 3000-4000 persons as alleged by some reporters but not confirmed by any govt.,or independent sources gathered at Gojra a little distance from the residences of the Christian community. The people about 6-8 from the Christian community fired in the air to repulse any desire by the mob to approach. In return there was firing by unknown people , and a girl and few other muslims were injured. As the tv footage of live firing shows and reports and pictures in Dawn show, young men came inside the Christian residences and brought out their belongings and set fire to them and then to the houses. Many women and children were burnt some alive and many were injured. The police and administration were insconspicuos by their absence. At the end a few policemen were seen extinguishing the fires with utensils. women and children were bieng carried in push carts to hospitals in critical state. All the houses(some say60) were burnt down. I saw on tv muslim men sobbing and helping the Christian neghbors. Later many gave eyewitness accounts of the horrible incidence and reported that outsiders had come and occupied a mosque and were active since last few months. They held them responsible for the tragedy. Many are saying it is the banned organisations in Punjab who are now converted to Punjabi Taleban and organise such acts of hatred and violence. In the last few years of Musharraf era these banned militant organisations have reorganised themselves,forged links with militants in Waziristan and are now quite ready to organise attacks on Pakistan. They use the power of religious coercion to spread the hatred for other communities to achieve their foul ends.They are happy ,thanks to the turn the face and Ostrich attittude of the establishment to religious pretenders,they can freely operate. People like Imran Khan justify openly to stop operation against militants and terrorists and pretend to be very patriotic Pakistani and modern muslim.
The tragedy is that the govt has too many fronts to fight and the people are helpless.
Such tragedies have to be foreseen and avoided.