The macabre lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot is neither the first incident of its kind nor the last one. Rather, it is a raging phenomenon of vigilante justice in the name of Islam, which is manifesting itself in different shapes. But now, the bowl has filled to the brim. What to speak of non-Muslims, even Muslims are not safe from violent religious intolerance in this land. Misuse of religious sentiments for the accomplishment of smaller or larger vested interests has now pushed our society to the brink of annihilation. Two short videos making rounds on social media these days best explain what is going on in the name of religion and what are its consequences. In one video, a cleric, addressing a corner meeting in local bodies’ election campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tells participants that they would be acting against religion if they voted for candidates other than those of a particular religious party. The other video showed female participants of a conference/ workshop at an Islamic seminary in Islamabad beheading an effigy amid shouts of Allah-o-Akbar by religious students. This is how these forces have been planted in every sphere of society under a well-conceived plan to Islamise society. Misuse of jihad in the bygone decades is still alive in our memories. Islam has been used as a tool of oppression when any segment of the society has demanded its rights. Enforcement of a strict Islamist political order had begun right with the promulgation of Objective Resolution in 1949. But the so-called Islamisation of society resumed a formal shape during the martial law of General Zia-ul-Haq. While all modern world societies felt low about orthodoxy, Pakistanis were made believe that religious fundamentalism was part and parcel of Islam. Even changes were made in school and college curriculums for the purpose. On its turn, this fundamentalism created a conducive ground for extremism and religious-sectarian hatred. Ironically, this political Islam has never protected national integrity when incidents like the separation of East Pakistan took place. The ever-growing ethnic and linguistic tendencies in smaller provinces have also proved the futility of this belief. The first Afghan war served as a catalyst as the American bloc needed a totalitarian military rule in Pakistan to help promote the petro-dollar fueled jihad in Afghanistan. That provided a good chance to the ruling machinery to suppress every anti-religious voice with complete impunity. The Objective Resolution, which was previously serving as a preamble of the Constitution, was bulldozed to make its essential part converting the country into a theocratic state. Attempts were even made to Islamise the national economy by initiating profit and loss bank accounts and introducing Islamic financial systems, like Modareba and Musharika, though both were basically Arab, not Islamic modes of economic transactions. None of them worked, nor has even usury been abolished in the banks and other transactions. However, being an easy and lucrative trade, jihad and jihadist training were promoted in every part of the country. Even special Islamic seminaries were set up with petro-dollars and support from the Arab world and the Western intelligence agencies. Since its framing, the Blasphemy law has been rendered such a taboo that everyone is afraid of even discussing its misuse for personal vendetta, though even Imam Abu Hanifa, his pupil, Abu Yusuf, Al Bazzazzi and Imam Ibn-e-Abidin have been misquoted while framing and interpreting this law. The position of all Hanafi jurists, including Imam Abu Hanifa himself, on the issue of blasphemy, has, in the early centuries of Islam, remained totally different from what is been purported in Pakistan – only except for the 9th Century Hijri scholar of Al-Bazzazi. Former Governor Punjab Salman Taseer was assassinated only for urging a review of the law. Ironically even lawyers and former judges glorified his killer. Blood of so many Muslims and non-Muslims has been shed at the altar that today, all non-religious citizens of this country consider themselves insecure. Even devoted and practising Muslims with an inquisitive and searching mindset feel frightened while questioning such acts. More ridiculous is the fact that even such gruesome acts taking place in broad daylight and not even disowned by the perpetrators are being attributed to foreign enemies. What message do we convey to the international community when an official no lesser than Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak says that “such quarrels and killings do happen and boys do commit such acts out of passion?” Ironically neither those at the helm nor those wielding the power of faith are ready to stem the rot and preempt future recurrence of such brutalities. To the most, they would express sorrow until the next such happening. More distressing is the fact that the sober and thoughtful of the countrymen who call public attention to such acts are singled out as anti-state and anti-faith elements. We must bear in mind that such happenings and tendencies threaten the very foundations of states and societies. No enemy from outside cannot inflict as much damage as do such cruelty in the name of religion. Misuse of jihad in the bygone decades is still alive in our memories. When jihad got violent after it was franchised to non-state groups, it shattered the very fabric of our own state and society, rather than causing any harm to the enemy. Vigilante justice has today assumed the same position. Even those who do not possess the slightest of religious learnings nor practice Islam in their personal lives would take pride in taking the life of any Muslim or non-Muslim in the name of blasphemy. Time is over now. Much damage has already been caused. The menace is now threatening the very existence of the state. The writer is an independent freelance journalist based in Islamabad covering South Asia/ Central Asia.