Land of bigots

Published: March 2, 2012

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at http://tazeen-tazeen.blogspot.com

It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.

In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.

Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.

The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.

Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.

The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.

It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

 

Reader Comments (28)

  • unbeliever
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:12PM

    i have to say that pakistani newspapers contain a lot more violence and have more dishum-dishum news than even every engineer’s favorite game counterstrike.

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  • fahad khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:14PM

    if you’re not muslim,there’s no place for you in pakistani society.If you happen to be atheist,agnostic,gay,ahmadi,hindu,christian then you should be prepared to be treated as an inferior species.all the privilege is for those who conform a narrow definition of a good person as set by the maulvis.if you don’t fall within that definition then you don’t have even the basic human rights in our society.

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  • samad farooq
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:23PM

    @fahad khan:

    Don’t you know these atheists,agnostics,gays and lesbians are all a yahodi saazish.No such people exist in the land of the pure.We strongly and violently reject those different from us.It’s all about conformity,if you don’t conform to what the maulvis say,then you are made into a social pariah.

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  • Jat
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:25PM

    The author is very brave and honest.

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  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:00AM

    Why don’t you take back your country? There’s bound to be more sensible, just and peace loving people than the violent Islamist. Shutdown the mosques and madrassahs that preach hatred.

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  • Sajid
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:30AM

    @unbeliever:
    You, sir, live in a cave. Or in basement only playing counterstrike and reading Pakistani newspapers and comparing. For the fact of the matter is such that at the end of any week, there was more real dishum-dishum on streets of Pakistan than there was on screens of displaying Counter Strike.

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  • just thinking
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:49AM

    it may sound rude and crude, but Jinnah was jumping up and down to get a country for muslims where they can practice their religion freely, supposedly without hindrance from hindustanis. now these same shia’s are jumping up and down to dodge the bullets. same thing with AJK people, they were jumping to join land of pure, now they are also joining the shia’s in dodging bullets.
    this is payback time for these shias/AJK or may be its curse of the ancient land, who knows.
    same fate awaits sunnis. time always comes back to haunt. Recommend

  • Noble Tufail
    Mar 3, 2012 - 1:05AM

    the land of pure …. but wired with blast mines of intolerance, bigotry, 295C, sectarianism etc. Thanks for writing this Tazeen. You are brave and courageous.

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  • Mar 3, 2012 - 3:02AM

    @JustAnotherPakistani:
    Shutdown the mosques and madrassahs that preach hatred.

    But those are our strategic assets.

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  • gp65
    Mar 3, 2012 - 4:29AM

    @fahad khan: “if you’re not muslim,there’s no place for you in pakistani society”

    I agree with your overall opinion. But would like to argue that even if you are a Muslim but Shia, the room for you is shrinking. Even wihin Sunnis, the Sufis and Barelvis are under siege as are their dargahs.

    But individual intolerance is one thing. What makes things worse is institutional apathy to individual violent acts of bigotry.

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  • TrueMuslim
    Mar 3, 2012 - 5:09AM

    Again, again, again saying bad things about Pakistan, telling lies, demoralizing, conspiring against Islam – is that all Express Tribune does? Shame on all of you. Better are the kaffirs than all of you.

    For your information, in your land of honey and milk, Hindustan, Muslim men are killed in broadlight, massacres are carried out daily, Muslim men are forced to marry Hindu men! Do you ever complain about that? Even shabana Azmi can’t buy a house in India!!!! Be thankful for Pakistan and for Islam or you would be worse than animals.

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  • vasan
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:30AM

    fahad khan : I am not sure that even muslims have a place in the society of Pakistan. It depends on where u live and which sect u follow. Even then Ahmadis are not accepted anywhere in Pakistan. So the mere mention of the “Land of the pure” and “Citadel of Islam” brings one to stomach bursting laughter.

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  • Zalim Singh
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:41AM

    Great article Tazeen, People like you are the only hope of Hindus in Pakistan. Thanks a million. Anyways, I do not think they will survive for long, They will disappear just like Kalash,

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  • unbeliever
    Mar 3, 2012 - 7:51AM

    @Sajid:
    have you got any grudges against counterstrike….
    well, i think it’s a game which transcends boundaries…
    be it an indian or a pakistani, most peoplejust fall in love with it
    GO GO GO FIRE IN THE HOLE……..

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  • ashok sai
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:10PM

    Islamic republic of Pakistan is the most unsecured place to live in for Muslims !

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  • yajsingh
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:58PM

    This nation was created for minorities (from majority Hindu India) and look what you do to your minorities be it hindu, ahamadi, shia, baloch, christian, women or gay.

    Muslim’s pre-partition feared Hindu persecution, which was no more than projection of their own diabolic nature of blind hatred towards other religions and carved Muslim pakistan; and what for? To exactly do what they feared Hindu India would do to them?

    Now after 60years, inspite of few shameful incidents, Hindu India stands firm on its commitment to Vasudhaiv Kutumbikam, “the world is one family” while Muslim pakistan is increasingly becoming epicenter of global terror and intolerance.

    Wake up pakistan!

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  • frank
    Mar 3, 2012 - 1:04PM

    I am an atheist and I have never had any problems in Pakistan. Pakistani newspaper writers should start writing scripts for Bollywood movies.

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  • wonderer
    Mar 3, 2012 - 1:09PM

    What you say, Madam, is absolutely true.

    But is it surprising?

    Has this truth emerged all of a sudden unexpectedly?

    Will anything be achieved by telling this truth?

    Is it not crying-over-spilt-milk’?

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  • lawangeen
    Mar 3, 2012 - 1:18PM

    When people kill in the name of religion they are obviously insecure with their faith.Long before the rabid fundos of Islam took up this mantle other faiths and other people did exactly the same. Do we need to evolve towards tolerance or dissappear as a lost people!.

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  • Ozymandias
    Mar 3, 2012 - 3:01PM

    Ok. We suck. Other than aggregating news reports, what’s your point?

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  • Ozymandias
    Mar 3, 2012 - 4:53PM

    @unbeliever:
    That’s right! One more word against CS and I will flashbang and chakka the offender!

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  • muneer
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:44PM

    @fahad khan:
    live another day in India ..when u go back to pakistan, you will feel blessed to be born in pakistan

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  • muneer
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:52PM

    the pakistan’s so called elite class, which is west’s boot licker and feel itself blessed for being so, wants the following things:

    All the madarsahs should be destroyed.
    All the masjids should be destroyed.
    All the maulvis should be jailed forever or hang at the best.
    All the people who have remember Quran by word (hafiz) should be executed.
    All the Qur’ans should be burnt with all the books of Islamic literature, whatsoever.
    Pakistan’s name should be changed to PETistan.
    Every man who keeps a beard should be killed and every woman who wears a burqa should be killed. They are plague to the society, according to Elite.
    In place of every mosque, there should be built a Hindu Temple, A christian Church, Sikh Gurudwara or the best – Jewish Synagogue. Rest of the mosques should be converted to Theatres.
    Pakistan should remove the tag of “Islamic Republic” from its name.
    Only Ahmadis, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Christians should be allowed to become the Politicians and Leaders of the country. If a muslims wants to be so, he should leave islam officially and then he is welcome. No muslim can be a leader of PETistan.
    Every one has to take the citizen Oath and should loudly say – I hate Islam.
    The list goes on …
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  • muneer
    Mar 3, 2012 - 7:01PM

    @yajsingh:
    look who is speaking !!!

    Babri Masjid, Bombay riots, Sikh Riots, Gujrat Riots, Muradabad Riots, Meerut Riots …and every single day some small or big riot and still proclaiming to live by vasudhav kutumbkum ?? and you are not even ashamed. Pakistan might have problems but in pakistan there have never been such a large scale state sponsored massacre of minorities as in Hindu India ..and remember that it proves one more thing. Muslims were right in making a demand for Pakistan because Hindus were torturing them even when British rule was present. What they have had done if british were not there at all and power was solely in hindu’s hand. Hindus were out there to do exactly what they are doing now. Please clean the dust from your mind. If muslims were to hate other religions like hindus do, there have been not so many hindus living a secure and prosperous life in middle east.

    I condemn every act of violence against the minorities whether it be done in pakistan or anywhere. But please, at least we dont need lectures from Hindus, the men eating predators who think that muslims are not humans and can be killed and raped at will.

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  • saleem
    Mar 3, 2012 - 8:11PM

    To start with now lets call for 21st amendment to the Constitution and remove the Objective Resolution. and rename the country Republic of Pakistan

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  • guess
    Mar 3, 2012 - 9:11PM

    @yajsingh:
    Balouch is not a religion

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  • Cynical
    Mar 4, 2012 - 6:50AM

    ‘Land of bigots’ or ‘Land of the pure’.
    It’s almost like fact vs. fiction.You just have to read the comments.

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  • Sultan
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:44PM

    @muneer:

    Who is calling for men with beards or women wearing burqas to be killed?

    Sensible people are only asking for laws against murder to be enforced and all
    citizens to be given their constitutional rights, such as the right to worship peacefully or
    hold the religious views of their choice or not be killed for being of a particular ethnic or
    social group.

    Would Pakistan, indeed the whole world, be a better place with less killing and hatred?

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