by ‘Our Correspondent’
..Pakistan is widely perceived in the West as being a den of fanaticism, yet this is a rank oversimplification. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are fundamentally decent, hospitable, and kind. Myopic Western narratives obscure any number of inconvenient facts: that far more Muslims are killed by terrorists than Christians; that the blasphemy laws are more often used as an excuse to seize valuable land than to score religious points; that there is a growing sense of outrage among Pakistanis at the brutalities committed in their country.
When terrorists attacked a church in Peshawar in 2013 a Muslim aid agency sent ambulances to help them, saving many lives. Even now SMS appeals for blood donations are doing the rounds; a taxi company in Lahore is offering free travel to hospitals for anyone who wants to donate blood. A friend of mine came across two men looting a bus station in Islamabad, chased them off, retrieved their loot, and promptly returned it to the authorities.
And yet the fact remains that there are organisations in Pakistan who consider it meritorious to park a car bomb next to a playground and blast dozens of giggling children to smithereens; who acclaim as a hero a man who machine-gunned a civil rights campaigner to death in an upmarket shopping area. The broad swathe of Pakistani decency and kindness is hedged in by a lunatic fringe of murderous zealots..