The procession taken out by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Karachi to welcome to return of their leader Benazir Bhutto from eight year long exile was met with one the worst terrorist attacks in Pakistan. More than 130 people were killed and hundreds were injured as a suspected suicide bomber unsuccessfully targeted Benazir Bhutto in a procession that was attended by more than 150,000 PPP supporters.
The attack on Benazir has once again brought to fore one of the main problems that Pakistan is facing at the moment: religious fundamentalism. Although, fundamentalism has been a part and parcel of the Pakistani politics since the time of General Zia-ul-Haq and also enjoyed the patronage of the ruling classes, the honeymoon between the Military, that provided the effective ruling clique, and the Mullah, the fundamentalists, was finally over during the Lal Masjid crises earlier this year. That event led to a number of suicide bombings targeting military personals and installations. However, as the conflict has spilled over, this time around a large gathering of the people was victimized.
This event can shift the public opinion radically against religious fundamentalism, which had already over-estimated their strength and support during the Lal Masjid episode. The people must know that religious fundamentalism is not the way to go; it’s not going to provide them with progress and social justice. Moreover, it’s not enough to ignore religious fundamentalism expecting it to die of its own. It’s about time to fight it along with other regressive and conservative practices of our culture and tradition.