Conventionally, a law-enforcing body assumes the role of a guardian for the community it is assigned to. In its set of responsibilities, it is obligated to ensure the security of individuals within that society, a particular emphasis on the marginalized and persecuted. That is, if it is a conventional setting. This is Pakistan however, wherein station house officers in the Punjab have asked minorities to secure themselves. The mordancy of such an insensitive directive from the police force itself is symptomatic of a fundamental – and fundamentalist – problem in our country: We simply do not possess the empathy or legal framework that addresses the increasingly violent state Pakistani minorities find themselves in.

Authorities of temples and churches of the garrison city Rawalpindi, had requested the administration to provide them with CCTV cameras, securing the premises with barbed wire, eight-foot high boundary walls, a police post on the roof, sufficient lighting and competent security guards from a verified company by the police. The request was, unsurprisingly, ignored. The provision of the aforementioned steps for security is an issue of responsibility of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). Both bodies failed to acknowledge the pressing needs of the Christian and Hindu communities.

It is crucial to urge inter-governmental bodies to press the Pakistani government to reflect upon its decaying performance with regard to protecting minorities. This is not a predicament limited to the police forces alone; Pakistani Penal Code itself requires immediate reform. There must be a section addressing that advocacy of religious hatred and incitement to discrimination and violence is entirely illegal. There is even more desperate urgency for concerted action to prosecute those culpable of harassing minorities and executing attacks on them. Any kind of impunity has to be removed in a systematic order. That, along with a parliamentary consensus for regulating madrassas and mosques to prevent their use for the promotion and propagation of anti-minority propaganda is critically required.

Relevant to the recent incident of placing the onus of protection on the unprotected, there has to be police reform and training of law enforcing bodies according to internationally recognized human rights standards. And it has to be followed through; no procedures left hanging in the air. With such mohafiz – guardians – the little holes in our walls for venomous snakes to slither in become wide open doors. We simply cannot allow police forces to treat the persecuted with such blatant disregard and lack of sympathy.