Pakistan: Open Letter to the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan from Pakistanis for Peace and Alternative Development

PPAD is a Peace and Alternative Development group formed in 1998 by academics, peace activists, intellectuals and professionals of Pakistani origin to work for peace, tolerance and alternative development in Pakistan.
We are greatly shocked to learn of yet another murderous attack on a Shia mosque in Quetta and the killing of a Catholic priest in Renala Khurd. Coming - as it does - hard on the heels of many previous savage attacks on Christians, Shias, Ahmadis and other religious minorities, PPAD condemns this act of violence in strongest possible terms. We send our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to all those who have lost their loved ones.
We wonder as to when the government will seriously act to put a stop to such brutal sectarian killings and bring to justice those who commit such crimes and those who encourage and abet these by teaching and spreading hatred and violence. This is not only devastating the lives of many citizens and their families but also seriously impeding all efforts to develop the country and move it into the 21st century. Violence is deterring expatriate Pakistanis, foreign investors and well wishers of Pakistan whose contribution is badly needed to reduce poverty and educate people. For without economic prosperity, civil responsibility and education, the extremists will continue to tempt young people towards their agenda of violence.

If the government of Pakistan is sincerely interested in ridding the country from the menace of religious and sectarian intolerance and terror, it should immediately take the following basic steps to demonstrate its will and determination:

1. To identify and prosecute all religious and sectarian militants involved in advocating, preaching or committing violence.

2. To stop sending contradictory signals to the leaders of extremist groups with proven terrorist links by alternately hobnobbing and playing tough with them.

3. Abolition of the blasphemy law, for such laws provide raison d’etre for violence against religious minorities.

4. To use the bulk of the Zakat funds to expand public services and education for the poor and prevent these from going to the extremist religious organisations spreading hatred through their teaching and other activities.

5. Preaching hatred and inciting violence (religious or otherwise) through word of mouth, media, graffiti and other means should be made a crime under the law and those found guilty prosecuted.

6. School curricula and text books be reviewed and any sections teaching religious or sectarian intolerance or martyrdom should be taken out.

7. All citizens should be treated as equals irrespective of religion, caste, creed or ethnic background and be free to practice their beliefs so long as it does not lead to physical oppression and threat to others.

We collectively appeal to the people of Pakistan to make their country a place of peace and tranquillity for all and vigorously protect the minorities and their rights in all possible ways. Unless the government and its institutions and society as a whole strongly act together to curb such recurrent sectarian and religious violence, the social and economic development of the country will remain stagnant and it international standing will remain seriously damaged and dented.

Dr Ahmed Shibli
Co-ordinator PPAD

Coordinator: Dr Ahmed Shibli, UK

Core Members:
Dr Ghazala Anwar, New Zealand
Group Captain (Rtd.) Cecil Chaudhry, Pakistan
Nazeer A Chaudhry, USA
Prof. Hassan Gardezi, Canada
Prof. Bilal Hashmi, USA
Owais Hasin, Pakistan
Ayyub Malik, UK
Dr Babar Mumtaz, UK
Prof A H Nayyar, Pakistan
Dr Saghir Shaikh, USA
Dr S Hamidullah, Pakistan