Among the most heart-breaking news I’ve heard this week is the Shikarpur incident. With more than sixty dead and counting, it has not been an easy thing to ignore. Yet we had one day of mourning, only in Sindh while the rest of the country went by its business. The reaction from a small but growing group of civil society under the leadership of Jibran Nasir is a positive development but I fear that it may be too late to save us from ourselves.

As the media has reported, when the convicted killer of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, so called “ghazi” MumtazQadri was brought to Islamabad High Court, his legal team outnumbered the police presence there. Reportedly, over 90 lawyers volunteered for his defense team. That, precisely, is where the root of the problem lies.

The extremist narrative that leads to educated men, who are there to uphold and serve the law to glorify a murderer is the same narrative that is used by those that kill people praying in a mosque, saying mass in a church or even children studying in schools. It is the same narrative that claims all of them to be “kaafir” and is used to justify murders. And the fact that this extremist narrative, which can be traced as far back as the Ayub administration or even the Objective Resolution, has penetrated far enough into our youth and the established champions is worrying to say the least.

We can think of radical Islamist elements like TTP, LeJ and Sipah-e-Sahaba as a sort of mafia. They are our version of the Italian mob that infested the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. They get their power not just from their funds from places like Saudi Arabia or their ideology. Money or ideologies are not video-game power-ups. They get their power from the terror they instill into people by murdering them in cold blood and the terrorist campaigns. They get their power from their long and well maintained criminal empires, ranging from extortion to kidnapping. Finally, they gain their power from the support they get from the common masses. The people that are affected by their narratives.

Given that their narrative is basically a religious ideology, no matter how twisted it is, makes them even more dangerous than the mafia. The fact that they espouse a type of ideology that people already would die for, combined with the decades of indoctrination and hate in our educational institutions and madrassas makes us a volcano that is just on the brink of eruption.

The two incidents I mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of it you can observe yourself.In the streets and in the libraries.In the educational institutions to the office chatter. Everywhere, you will find people who will seem to be against the murders yet would whisper that maybe the perpetrators were right. Maybe it is what Islam wants.

Until and unless that narrative is rooted out we will continue to see more murderers that are glorified, more coffins and more mosques that are red with blood. We have to question ourselves, do we want more mosques bombed, more wives widowed, children made orphans, or do we want to move into an enlightened age where we do not have to fear for our lives every second.

The answer should be the reason why we can’t let the extremist narrative dominate our lives. Why we can’t let more people glorifying a murderer. Why we can’t let the local mosque imam spout hate speech about other sects. That’s the only way we can survive.

The 27 bullets that were fired four years ago are still in motion. They are the same bullets that killed the kids in APS Peshawar. They are the same explosive power that killed sixty people in Shikarpur. And the bullets weren’t fired from the guns. They are the bullets that were shouted from loud speakers by the hate mongers. The peddlers of the narrative of extremism. This is a war for survival. We have to pick our sides.