KARACHI, April 18: Secularism is not against religion; it is the message of humanity.
This was the gist of the speeches delivered by eminent speakers at the launch of the Pakistan chapter of the Forum of Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971 at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.
Prior to the launch, a documentary Portraits of Jihad directed by distinguished Bangladeshi filmmaker Shahriar Kabir was screened. The subject of the film was the spread of religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh. It gave a detailed account of how extremist groups tried to shake the foundation of Bangladeshi society through terror, making their recruits acquire training abroad and target those who spoke against fundamentalism or upheld secular values.
It was a moving documentary that commenced with the footage of an attempt on the life of Shaikh Haseena Wajid in 2004 and ended on a positive note with Lalon Fakir’s mystical words.
Iqbal Haider, the president of the forum, complimented the people of Bangladesh for having got rid of militancy. He said the foundation of Bangladesh was laid on four principles enshrined in their constitution — secularism, socialism, nationalism and democracy — which made all the difference.
“On the contrary, we Pakistanis are infected with fundamentalism, ethnicity, sectarianism etc,” he said, and claimed that the largest number of Muslims were killed (by Muslims) in Pakistan.
He said that extremists were free to attack jails, shrines and schools; 900 schools were destroyed by Taliban within the last three years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, depriving children of education.