Nowadays it has become the norm or rather I should say modus operandi that anything which suggests or hints or even that which can be painted as fundamentalist, is propagandized and it makes headlines providing opportunity once again to use some black sheep as the role models to blame the whole system. This is what happened when The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) released a report on the present condition of Thar in which it also informs, among other grave matters, about the growth of seminaries in Thar district.

NCHR’s Chairman Justice (Retd) Ali Nawaz Chohan brought to light some new updates in the report made public on Tuesday 12th April as a result of National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights seeking report on Thar situation following a detailed visit to the affected areas by a two-member delegation led by the chief of the commission. It blames the government for not taking action which is continuously resulting in alarmingly increasing death tolls of children as wells as adults.

But some News outlets like The BBC Urdu and The Express Tribune, out of all the troubles faced by the drought-stricken region, decided to break news of the rising number of seminaries in Thar. Now I am not a very big fan of madrassas myself but I do take offence to unnecessary and baseless allegations on anyone whosoever and in the wake of such occurrences many elements grab these opportunities to malign Islam and Muslims.

This growth is being linked to forced conversion of Hindus into Muslims as the region is believed to be home to 70% of Pakistan’s Hindus. This is a baseless claim being portrayed as a grave concern as there are no such reported incidents that might have had taken place due to these seminaries. All the reporting was done on mere assumptions such as the lack of government control and clear policies for the seminaries which makes them, supposedly according to them, a harmful component of the society.

When I researched the matter further it opened up its folds to present a very different dimension of the story. These seminaries are actually a source of relief for the locals as they provide their students with food, shelter and cloths which is a rare privilege given the ongoing turmoil created through the worst drought and starvation. Moreover, many religious relief organizations like Al-Khidmat and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, where the government has failed, are piloting massive projects to counter the problems of the drought-stricken region. Muslim relief organizations providing help to the people, who are more than 70% Hindus, brings to light a whole new story.

Neither would we hear any news of these efforts nor would we find any appreciation of those conducting these works. We need to stop painting everyone with the same brush. It is of utmost importance that we counter the enemies of this great country but we should also realize that in the process we need to make a clear distinction between those who are terrorists and those who are the well-wishers of humanity living the true spirit of Islam.

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