As evidenced by the recent ill-treatment of Christian Rimsha Masih, the average Pakistani Muslim, in approving that treatment, appears to take his or her Islam straight. In the past 24 hours, Rimsha, so that she does not get murdered prior to the completion of her blasphemy trial, has had to be given a surprise rescue from her imprisonment by military helicopter. She is now at an undisclosed location.
Given Pakistan’s tragic cultural trajectory, it seems a near-certainty that its nuclear arsenal must, over the next decade or so, come into the hands of Islamic fanatics. Iran too appears to be on this black course. Sometime before 2020, we’re likely to find ourselves collectively waking up to a dark recognition: we’re all Rimsha Masih now. That is, we’re all hostage to a religious zealotry far beyond our control. An exchange of nuclear weapons between Pakistan and India or Iran and Israel would surely poison the planet (Pakistan alone has one hundred nuclear weapons).
The plague-like side to the John Donne line, “no man is an island,” is becoming increasingly inescapable. Will we keep our heads about us as we find ourselves ever more incapable of blinking and turning away from the Pakistani and Iranian Medusas? Will we, like Oedipus, pluck out our eyes? Or will we simply rip one another to shreds?
Contra those Jews, Christians, and Shiite Muslims eagerly awaiting their respective versions of divine rescue, there will be none. No helicopters will be forthcoming from above. There will be no deus ex machina. We’ll be on our own (as we always have been). This is being reported at Reuters today. Meet your future captors:
Despite international condemnation, the blasphemy law still enjoys widespread support among ordinary Pakistanis.
Two high-ranking government officials who had suggested its reform were shot dead, one by his own bodyguard. Lawyers threw rose petals at that killer and the judge who convicted him was forced to flee the country.
It’s times like these that I sympathize with Benjamin Netanyahu’s existential dilemma over what to do about Iran and India’s dilemma over Pakistan. “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”