When Dr Atif Mian was appointed to the Economic Advisory Council, I knew that it was just a matter of time before his faith causes pandemonium in our society. I was apprehensive that the government will succumb to the uproar and will have to recant its decision. But, when information minister Fawad Chaudhry came out and robustly defended Dr Atif’s inclusion, I was hoping against hope that this will pave way for a new beginning… A new beginning. How did I forget that our bigotry and derision for our minorities is perpetual, irrespective of the façade in the country – purana ya naya, Pakistan is a country that came into being to safeguard the rights of a minority that was being oppressed by the hands of the majority.
Our founder Quaid e Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was explicit in his proclamation that every religious group in this country is free to follow the path which their religion preaches. So, how did we forget that?
A nation who is infatuated with quoting Quaid in every aspect, whose sole agenda is to form Quaid’s Pakistan, why don’t we want to implement this vision of Quaid e Azam?
Our hate for the minorities stems from the fact that we haven’t experienced oppression a minority group has to endure in a country dominated by another religion. We got a nation in which our religious beliefs was majoritarian. It became a privilege. I mean, being privileged in any part of the world means you’re either rich or well connected. But, here in Pakistan, just belonging to the dominant sect is privilege big enough. You’re free from persecution. You won’t face the slings of hate and you won’t be asked to prove your faith on every step.
We as a nation should be mortified because of what our minorities are subjected to.
Pulpits are used to propagate Rancor against them. Obscurantist wantonly use the loudspeaker to instigate violence against them whenever they have to settle a personal score. We have made lives so difficult for them that they have to seek refuge in other countries and our vengeful lust isn’t placated even after committing every known atrocity against them.
Imagine the torment of our Shia brothers and sisters. Despite being brutally persecuted already, whenever they switch on the TV, they see fanatics spewing hate against them. They are called a heretic just because they don’t share majorities religious belief.
Hazaras, a community forced to flee the country just because the state can’t guarantee their safety. I mean the safety of life is the state’s responsibility and it’s irrespective of religious beliefs. NO?
Ahmedis. We have out rightly declared them ‘kafir’ in our constitution and still aren’t satisfied even after subjugating their religious liberty.
Imagine the threshold of agony: You’re living in a country. Almost every family you know in your community has one member who fell prey to the politics of hate peddled by the extremists, yet in that country, your patriotism is questioned every time you try to do something.
Just think of the constant fear they have to live in. Their mistake? Only that they’re Pakistanis.
Your places of worship are vandalized. You aren’t allowed any liberty. You are forcefully proselytized. But still, when called, you gladly come to serve your nation just to get the riposte ‘Sorry we don’t have the spine to defend you against these handful of zealots and in the larger interest, we have to let you go’
It is indiscernible whether it’s painful or shameful.
The minorities residing in our country are one of the nicest, upright and most honest people you will come across. They won’t be impertinent while communicating, they won’t rip you off in the dealings and they won’t be hateful towards you. Any person who has even a single encounter with someone from a minority community can attest to this. In a country with so many adversities, they have a lot to prove and they still thrive. Some of our brilliant minds are from our minority groups. But, what we do with them? We let our hate obscure our mind. We’re contended to waste our brilliant minds just because we want to put our bigotry a top of our interests.
We can’t even be acceptable toward our fellow Muslims. What are we to say about those who have a totally different religion? Hell, we have heavily redacted our curriculum because we don’t even want to apprise our kids with the sacrifices of our heroes belonging to minority groups. We have removed every last vestige of their valor just because we’re too petty to applaud their service for this nation.
Make no mistake. It’s not their loss. It is us and only us who make a fool out of ourselves. While we remain busy taking dives after dives in the swamp of bigotry, our brilliant minds are embraced by the world because they’re not insane to let go of such adroit individuals just because they don’t share the akin religion. It’s us who have made religion a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to serve his nation.
Let’s be in no delusion. If we keep capitulating to these zealots, they will keep growing in their belligerence. They’ll keep putting these demands and the state will have to keep granting them space. They’ll keep strangulating the state to get more and more breathing space.
It is not only about minorities. Once they get rid of them, they’ll come after the majority. They are ceaseless, and they won’t stop. This is just a presage.
We have to stand up for our minorities. We failed them in the past and we’re failing them even today. They are peace-loving citizens who only want to contribute towards making this society more progressive and they’re doing whatever they can without a modicum of malice regardless of how their lives are made a living hell. We must repent. At least accept the fact that they’re oppressed and we’re a part in that. At least consider them worthy of your apathy.
Can we do just this?
The writer tweets @MoizMalik