Currently, the Christian community is once again left feeling that it has been treated in a disrespectful and inconsiderate manner. And with some difficulty is it demonstrating immense restrain and tolerance. Like any religions community, its members’ feelings have been hurt by ruthless politicos who stand resolute when it comes to achieving with their goals, no matter who gets in their way. No religious community, certainly no Muslim, would put up with what happened recently during the PMLN NA 120 by-election campaign. No one should expect any other religious community to withstand such brutal insensitivity. The pulpit is sacred to almost every religion and respect for this sentiment is taught at home to children by parents, who are in a position to impart certain values to their offspring. In cases where this is not the norm, such duty falls to schools. As sensitively as the church leadership may have stepped while trying to diffuse the situation – the issue of desecrating a religions space meant solely for the delivery of sermons by the most distinguished religious scholars and clerics should have been the primary consideration, as a matter of respect and regard for those whose sentiments this offends. Maryam Nawaz has used highly inappropriate language to attack a judiciary that dared send packing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over corruption charges; to ridicule the opposition and anyone else voicing serious reservations about Nawaz’s continuing his premiership. That she thus behaved in a similar manner when demanding that the congregation vote for her mother in the upcoming by-poll should shock none of us. The Archbishop, who allowed the premises of the Catholic Cathedral Lahore to be used for political propaganda, cannot be completely absolved in all this. But what His Eminence may have forgotten – his congregation certainly has not. Forever etched in their minds’ eye is how the PMLN turned the other way when Christian colonies and settlements from Shanti Nagar, St Joseph’s Badami Bagh, Gojra and to Korian were razed by party supporters. Similarly, they still remember how Gosha-e-Aman, church property no less, was forcibly seized by the Punjab government. The scars inflicted by the current regime remain. Indeed they now have been ripped open and their exposed wounds may never heal this time around. And we wonder why tolerance can hardly be found anywhere in today’s Pakistan. Despite our best efforts, the situation is increasingly exacerbated by those at the helm who actively cultivate this climate to further their ambitions. When every crime is brushed aside by those who have the power to manipulate and when every consideration is violated the bruises grow to be festering wounds. Anarchy is the end result in any society where there is a breakdown in the legal system and injustice runs rampant. Our social fabric is being torn to shreds because of these disparities and those with blinkers still on continue to find excuses as they remain oblivious to the real issues that ordinary people feel and face. And trouble, when it gets out of hand, starts at the place where inequality is felt most; all it takes is just one thoughtless act to trigger it. What His Eminence may have forgotten – his congregation certainly has not. Forever etched in their minds’ eye is how the PMLN turned the other way when Christian colonies and settlements from Shanti Nagar, St Joseph’s Badami Bagh, Gojra and to Korian were razed by party supporters What is lost in the bigger picture of political consciousness are the essential tools for civilised living that are no longer en vogue: respect, consideration and tolerance. Those who have had a convent education will recall that one of the first lessons ever taught focuses on all the above. Presumably as the Catholic missionaries represented a minority niche, and with their congregations comprising the marginalised of society, these were key values. As devoted educationists, they taught their scholars the principles of honesty, charity in both deed and kind, and more importantly of fairness, of remaining unbiased and of speaking out always of injustice. To their institutions did children from all religious backgrounds flock to be more than merely ‘book learned’. Like all multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious societies, we need to re-learn these lessons. For they represent the fundamental teachings of every religion and form the basic structure of every society that proclaims itself to be civilised. These lessons taught us to be respectable members of society with the capacity and will to contribute towards nation building. If teaching fell short at home, education institutions – which placed the utmost importance on ethical character building – was sure to pick up the slack. Over the last few months, we have seen the extent of the ruthlessness of those who have been ruling us, exploiting us to simply snatch votes and fill their bottomless coffers. We have witnessed the scope of this deceit. Yet the day that Maryam Nawaz used the pulpit to deliver a political speech is the day that she utterly and wholly exposed the true character of her party, her family and herself. Let us hope there is no going back. That the scales have fallen from the peoples’ eyes. The writer, a former journalist, is a political activist, writer, avid traveller as well as a committed cat person. She can be reached at email@example.com and tweets @TalathNaqvi Published in Daily Times, September 9th 2017.