Just the other day, Pakistan was mourning the murder of human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud. Her fault: she spoke out and perhaps freedom of speech is becoming forbidden in Pakistan. And now, we mourn the killings of 43 people from the Ismaili community. Their fault: They belong to a minority religion and do not deserve the freedom to exist. In a country where Ahmadis don't openly share that they belong to their community, the days are not far when Ismailis and even Bohras will hide their identity just for the sake of survival in this country.
On the day of the bloody incident, gunmen entered a bus carrying 60 people of the Ismaili community, leaving 43 dead and the remaining critically injured, according to Dawn. Eyewitnesses reported that the armed men were disguised as security guards. Ahmed Marwat, a spokesman for Jundullah which is a splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, talking to Reuters. There were also reports that pamphlets reading "Daesh Khorasan" (ISIS) were seen inside the bus.
"They are killing Pakistanis today and will continue to kill Pakistanis tomorrow."
A question on everyone's minds: Why them? The Ismaili community is a sub-sect of the Shia community, and makes up 20% of Pakistan's largely Sunni population. They are considered to be a peaceful community and are concentrated in particular areas. The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was an Ismaili himself. Had he been alive today, would he also have become a victim?
It is impossible to deny that this attack is yet another example of sectarian violence. More worryingly, these terrorists/killers are finding an increasing number of religious groups to target. In the end, though, they are killing Pakistanis. They are killing Pakistanis today and will continue to kill Pakistanis tomorrow. As for those of us in the majority community, we shall mourn for a few days and then forget about it. The government and security forces will have meetings and make promises to the people, and then forget about it too. But the killers will carry on what they've been doing for years now. Only the families of those killed and injured will be forever scarred.
How much longer can we be complacent? Only have five months of this year have passed and almost every month has been marked by sectarian violence. In January, a Shia Imambargah was attacked in Shikarpur (Sindh) which left 60 dead. Then in February, 20 people were killed in an attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar. Later in March, there were attacks on two churches in Lahore which left 14 dead and almost 80 wounded. In the same month, a Bohra mosque was targeted, leaving two dead and many injured. And now, of course, the incident with the Ismailis.
These incidents prove that Pakistan is gradually becoming a dangerous place to live, especially for minorities. They may own a Pakistani National Identity Card or passport, and treated as brethren by their neighbours, but who will explain this to the killers?
The burials have taken place and prayers have been said. The nation will stay sad for a few days and then life will be back to normal. High-level meetings between the military leader, prime minister and government will probably amount to little. Pakistanis may feel safe for a short time when they hear about some action being taken by the authorities. But with one question at the back of their minds: Who is next and when?