Irish Nobel Laureate MP W.B. Yeats’ timeless poem, ‘Easter 1916’ had been written in fond memory of Irish Republicans who laid down their lives in the freedom struggle. The poem reminds one of the lives lost in the 2016 Easter attack in Lahore. A year has passed since then. More than seventy people, mostly women and children, had died in the attack. In retrospect, this incident also manifested how dictatorial regimes, albeit in democratic garb, could go to any extent to preserve and further their vested interests.In a truly Islamic country, it would be incumbent upon the rulers to safeguard the lives and interests of citizens across religious, ethnic, linguistic, economic, or any other divide. Sadly, however, in the case of the Easter Sunday attack, as well as with other such atrocities, the government seems complicit with the perpetrators. The ruling party had come to power in 2013 with the backing of the religious right. This appears to still be the case today. Consider recent statements made by a leader from a party in the ruling coalition. Addressing a press conference on April 6, Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri had said, “We invite the Taliban to join Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl and ask them to attain their objectives with the help of a peaceful political struggle.” Here, it would be pertinent to recall that an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban – Jamaatul Ahrar (JA) – had claimed responsibility for Easter Sunday. After which, JA spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had told NBC News, using an Afghan cell number: “Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target.”Though Easter 1916 of Dublin and Easter 2016 of Lahore are a century apart, once can trace several parallels in the two events. In 1916, the English officialdom had killed Irish republicans demanding freedom for Ireland and the establishment of an independent republic. In the case of Easter 2016 in Lahore, the massacre occurred in an already established republic that should have been duty bound to guarantee fundamental rights to all its citizens. The sorrow of families left bereaved in the aftermath is aptly captured in the opening line of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland: “April is the cruelest month”. For these families, blossoming greens of the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park had been rendered a wasteland, days before the advent of April – the month that traditionally heralds the arrival of spring season.Our dear homeland, Pakistan, was formed in the name of Islam which, literally, means ‘peace’. The country’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared in his historic address to the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947 that “in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in political sense as citizens of the State.”Alas! For the ruling Muslim League, Jinnah’s advice seems to have given way to a policy of condoning hatred against minorities. Such tactics are far from Islamic ideals of governance and tolerance, as practiced by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the model Islamic state of Medina. Under the Medina Pact, adherents of all religious groups Muslims, Jews, Christians and even pagans, had lived in complete peace and harmony.Today’s world is a global village and major festivals of main religions are shared and celebrated as cultural events as well. Easter should be a time of rejoicing for all, Christians as well as Muslims – both believe in the Second Coming in their own ways. This will, indeed, be a healthy approach towards promoting interfaith tolerance and harmony.Peace had never been so dear a commodity as it is at present turbulent times. To restore and preserve peace and humanity, it is our solemn duty to stand up against obscurantist forces. Otherwise, we Pakistanis would be plunged into an abyss with, to quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost, “no light, but rather darkness visible”.