A return to ignorance

Sixty-two years ago, Pakistan was created on the basis of the Two-Nation Theory. Those who fought for the freedom of this country might have had a secular perspective but were still of the view that in order to secure the rights of the Muslim minority in the Indian subcontinent, a new country had to be formed. It is quite ironic to see that a country that came into being to secure the rights of a minority is now itself guilty of violating the rights of other minorities living here.

Uri Avnery, an Israeli peace activist, quoted a letter from his Israeli friend Dov Yermiya in an article ‘Our responsibility’ (Daily Times, August 4, 2009). Mr Yermiya declared that he would not be “loyal to the Jewish fascist state and its mad visions” and further wrote, “Israel will never be forgiven for the terrible toll of [Palestinian] blood spilt, and especially the blood of children, in hair-raising quantities.”

I wonder if Pakistan could be forgiven for spilling the blood of its own people, especially those who are a minority community. A countless number of Shias, Ahmedis, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians have suffered at the hands of their own countrymen, yet we only see a handful of people who raise their voices against such gross injustice.

Bertrand Russell once said, “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” This is very true in Pakistan’s case. Christians are a minority community in Pakistan; they are not considered ‘members of the herd’. They are treated as second-class citizens of this country even though they have been living here since before the birth of the country 62 years ago. Those considered to be second-class citizens in the West have far more rights than these nationals of Pakistan. Their only ‘sin’ is that they are from a minority community.

On August 1, 2009, at least nine people including a woman and four children were killed and dozens injured in Gojra. The riots broke out as a result of a rumour that Christians had desecrated the Holy Quran in the vicinity. Many Christians were mercilessly killed, their homes looted and set on fire. Those who visited Gojra after this incident say that these houses were not burnt by using simple kerosene oil or petrol; some very strong chemicals were used and the whole incident was very well-planned.

Last year, a TV evangelist declared the Ahmedis ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (worthy of being killed) in his television programme on a renowned television channel. This led to the killing of three Ahmedis, while countless threats were made to the Ahmediya community after this infamous television programme. Why were no charges pressed against this anchorperson on incitement to violence and murder? Why was no suo motu action taken against him? Why was this programme not banned altogether? These questions lead one to a single conclusion: threats to minority communities are not considered an ‘important’ issue.

The Blasphemy Law in Pakistan is a markedly anti-minorities law. This black law has mainly been used to settle scores with the minorities and/or ‘enemies’ of the Muslim faith. No government has yet been able to revoke this law. Ziaul Haq also made it a criminal offence for the Ahmedis to ‘pose’ as Muslims or to preach and/or propagate their faith.

The roots of intolerance can be traced back hundreds of years ago when invaders like Mahmud of Ghazni came to the subcontinent and targeted non-Muslims and some sects of Muslims whom they considered to be outside the pale of Islam. This trend continued till the partition of the subcontinent and even after partition, things have not changed.

After 62 years of existence, the people of Pakistan should be asking themselves a very pertinent question: is this the Pakistan our forefathers fought for? A country where there is no tolerance for the rights of human beings is not a country that was envisioned by the people who laid down their lives in the freedom struggle. Why should a Pakistani celebrate Independence Day when we are not yet a free nation in its truest form? If my Ahmedi friend’s life is in danger, if my Christian neighbour’s house is being plundered in broad daylight, if my Shia friends are the target of terrorists, if the state cannot provide protection to the Sikhs in the country’s north-western areas, if the Hindus living here are afraid to step out of their homes, then I have no right whatsoever to feel free.

At a peace rally in Lahore on January 31, 2009, there was a very apt slogan being chanted by a group of young members of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP). It went like this: “Jahaalat ke hain teen nishaanjihadi, mullah, Taliban!” (There are three signs of ignorance — jihadis, mullahs and the Taliban). Pakistan is up in flames and the igniters are none other than the jihadis, the ignorant mullahs and the Taliban. These three forces have wreaked havoc in the country. It is time we got rid of these forces instead of harbouring fanaticism in our roots. The people of Pakistan need to learn from their mistakes. We need to move forward and the only way to do is to get rid of fundamentalist forces within the country and make Pakistan peaceful.


Noemaun Ahmed said…
if the founders of pakistan believed in the rights of the minority, they would not have sought a separate country. they instead wanted to avoid being the minority themselves.

It is common for us to discriminate the minority but only fanaticism can make us deny them even their basic rights.
terry5732 said…
She's back !

Isn't Pakistan so much more peaceful now without Musharraf?
Vikas Agarwal said…
Dont be fooled Mehmal, This is a conspiracy by zionists, neocons and hindu zionists to take control of pakistani nukes and divide the country. Muslims can not do such acts that you have described. These are hindus. As a proof you should see their faces, they are all dark small smelly hindus. Like that kid Amir ajmal Kasab. Uski shakal hinduoon wali hai. You should listen to more zaid hamid and ali azmat.

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