Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pakistanis Kill 85 of their own

Pakistani children mourn during a funeral procession in Karachi
While skimming through the headlines and intelligence bulletins this morning I noticed a report on CNN that said at least 85 people died in Pakistan the other day. Well, I almost skipped the article because I assumed it was the Taliban acting out again in some internal act of terrorism inspired by their peculiar brand of religious fervor. Upon closer reading, however, I was surprised to find out that these deaths had nothing to do with religious conflicts. It apparently was political disagreements that lead to the killings.

From the CNN Report:

“The clashes have been blamed on a bitter rivalry between two political parties -- the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement mostly represents Urdu-speaking people who migrated to Pakistan from India during partition in 1947, while the Awami National Party represents Pashto speakers, more of whom are moving to Karachi from northwest Pakistan in search of jobs.

Violence between supporters of the two parties and other turf wars in Karachi have killed hundreds in recent years.”

I am afraid I just do not (and probably never will) understand why people are so willing to kill over politics. We see death and destruction every day, especially in the Middle East, over religious conflict. While I do not approve of it, at least I can understand how religious fanaticism can lead conflict with deadly results.

The concept has been with us historically for as long as man has had religion. One group of people believe that their God or gods approve of their killing of non-believers. Some actually believe it is not only justified but is required. The Spanish and Portuguese Catholics used the excuse to conquer South and Central America. Muslims used it as an excuse to conquer Spain. The crusaders said God wanted them to kill Muslims and conquer the “holy land”. Europe was torn apart for hundreds of years fighting wars based on religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. The Old Testament even tells us that the Jews used it as an excuse to take the ‘promised land”, killing every man, woman, child and animal in whole cities along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not, for a moment, approve of killing, even in the name of religion. The logical side of me tells me that if God really favored one religion over another and wanted one form of worship, he would have seen to it long before this. My more religious friends will naturally disagree but their arguments will be emotional, not logical –and therein lays the primary cause of such violent conflict, emotional response often overrides common sense.

In Pakistan we see a society that has experienced so much religious violence it literally spills over into non-religious politics. The use of violence and deadly force as a means of winning an argument is not only tolerated, it is accepted. While Pakistan is certainly not the only place where this happens, it is a prime example of it. 

Until the acceptance of violence as a tool for winning an argument and until religious leaders begin teaching tolerance and non-violence, people will continue to die, simply because they disagree –and that is a true tragedy.

Live Long and Prosper....

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