Labeling the opponent as infidel and liable to be killed is not a recent phenomenon in Pakistan. However, authorities might finally be rolling up their sleeves, and tackling venom that has magnified sectarian violence in the country: hate speech by our noble clerics.

Recently, the Provincial Minister for Law & Parliamentary Affairs, Rana Sanaullah Khan has said that the speeches of Ulema fanning sectarianism on the occasion of Eidul Azha will be recorded and monitored through CCTV cameras. In view of security, no vehicle will be allowed to go up to mosques or Eidgahs. Moreover, there is ban on provocative speeches at mosques and action will be taken as per law against the Ulema violating this ban.

In order to make sure that Eid for people is peaceful, the law minister has also arranged for snipers to be deployed on the roofs of sensitive buildings. He said that no comprise would be made on the security of ‘important personalities’ during Eid prayers and necessary security will be provided to them.

This order is part of the full-scale crackdown on the proscribed organisations, initiated in the backdrop of the brutal assassination of late Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada last month. Such efforts should be applauded, where it is essential that the government provides extra security in times of threat.

With Section 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act stating a ‘prohibition of acts intended or likely to stir up sectarian violence’, the federal government has asked the provinces, apart from making laws to curb rampant hate speech and heaps of extremist material within their remit, to make sure that there was no abuse of the loudspeaker, which most extremists, posing as religious scholars, employed as an effective tool to brainwash young minds. Given the delay and unreliability caused by the ATC’s it is also necessary to make hate speech an issue in the public sphere and the print and digital media, one that can help shape a very necessary but forsaken debate.

An Annual report 2015 of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has highlighted the menace of sectarian and religious discrimination. Some excerpts of the report are enough to blemish an already blotted image of Pakistan. The report reads “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom. In a country, where authorities continue to enforce blasphemy laws, regulations designed to marginalise the Ahmadiyya and Shia community and on various occasions restrict religious freedom, one can see that even if this monitoring of religious sermons might be done with a ‘noble’ intention, it still does not tackle the root cause of intolerance in Pakistan. Frankly, a more nuanced system of accountability for hate crimes and hate speech is needed.