South Punjab, Pakistan- The Next Target of Al Qaida & Taliban

The recent explosions in a Madresah ( A religious Seminary) in Mia Channu South Punjab, Pakistan, killing almost 21 innocent students, is an alarm call for Pakistani security agencies to act without any further delay. It is reported in the newspapers that the Madresah was operated by an activist of a banned terrorist organisation Sipah e Sahaba and the explosives including grenades and rocket launchers were stocked in the seminary by terrorists.

Jamaat e Islami, a rightwing religio-political party, chief blamed US and its allies for the explosion and said that by explosion in South Punjab the US is trying to strengthen its argument that the area is getting out of the control of Pakistani authorities and NWFP like drone attacks are urgently needed to curb the terrorists. On the other hand independent sources are claiming that Talibans are getting stronger in South Punjab and are capable to launch an offensive at anytime. The interior ministry has already stated that the roots of the recent terrorist attacks in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan, killing hundreds of people, are in the area and some of the top militant leadership belong the fertile region of South Punjab.

Whatever be the reason either any conspiracy by US or a real foothold of Taliban, the question that strikes a common mind, which has some understanding of that region, is that how South Punjab, a land of Sufis and saints preaching love and tranquility without the prejudice of religion and caste, is turning into fold of religious extremism? Bahauddin Zikria Multani, Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, Baba Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Sultan Bahoo and several other sufis have dominated south punab’s religious beliefs for centuries and these saints have never discriminated anyone no matter whatever religion he or she follows. Their teachings have inspired millions of South Asians and they are most respected not only in Muslims of South Asia but also widely respected among Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists of the region since centuries.

Bulleh Shah’s famous Qafia ( Couplet) can clear you what the sufi clan believed and preached he said Mandir dhawien masjid dhawien, par dil na kisi ka dhawien meaning demolish Muslim’s mosque or Hindu’s mandir but never break human heart. And there are innumerable citations that can proof that the region of south Punjab and its religious leaders are peace loving Sufis who never taught religious extremism under any circumstance.
The transformation of South Punjab from Sufism to the hardcore religious extremism, if it is really happened, would be most unfortunate for not only the region but for the whole humanity. No one can ever imagine that a handful of religious obscurantist will deprive us from fakirs singing the songs of Bulleh Shah, Ghulam Farid and Sultan Bahoo in their traditional attire and a typical Saraiki tone.

These are testing times for Saraiki culture and tradition and only time will tell what the peace loving Saraikis of South Punjab opt for their future generations? Will the soothing kafias of Ghulam Farid will be overshadowed by a fiery speech of hardcore militant? What will happen to the sacred mazars ( tombs) of thousands of Sufi saints which would be prime targets of Al Qaeda and Talibans? These questions need to be answered not only by the government of Pakistan but also by Seraiki intellectuals. Government should also take notice of the increasing Talibinisation of the region and safe one of the most peaceful culture and civilization of South Asia and of course the common people are most important in stopping militarization of the region once famous for tranquility and love.