Pakistanis abroad create group against hate

Published: May 5, 2013

Overseas Pakistanis came up with BOLO Pakistan as a campaign to end the silence against injustice. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: Not all Pakistanis living abroad are oblivious to the situation in Pakistan and they don’t live in a bubble. These overseas Pakistanis have a strong connection to their country and react accordingly to current affairs. BOLO Pakistan is a product of such young men and women, who have taken a step to bring a change.

Creators of BOLO Pakistan include Anab Jafri, Iftikhar Nazir, Ali Kazmi, Sheba Zaidi and Feryal Khorasanee. They started their forum through Facebook to engage people in discussions and crush issues of minority and sectarianism — both which are prevalent in our society presently.

When did BOLO Pakistan start?

The Facebook group BOLO Pakistan was launched on April 2 this year as a campaign against minority injustice.

Pakistani society has lost tolerance. Let alone other religions, you notice that within sects, people spew hatred against those with differing in jurisprudence or thought. The less said about the lack of understanding displayed by the political parties of the country, the better.

We heard about the incident of Shias being removed from buses and mercilessly butchered. It continued with the start of this year, with the Quetta bombings against our Hazara brethren. Interspersed between these incidents were the routine humiliation of Ahmedis, Hindus and Christians and other minorities residing in Pakistan.

Overseas Pakistanis came up with BOLO Pakistan as a campaign to end the silence against injustice. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

BOLO Pakistan realised that talks about injustice were parts of our conversation, but not extended beyond our comfort zones. Ordinary people do not speak out in public, yet bigots dominate the conversations. We thought it was time — we defended the plurality of our society and encourage the civil society to speak out louder on these highlighted issues.

How will it make a difference in Pakistani society? Does online campaigning make a difference?

The world is a different place today. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are real conversation starters. In Pakistan, observe that politicians are now engaging in online conversations and even the civil society is getting in the act, such as Shahzeb Khan’s murder case.

Eventually, we envision the campaign to evolve with the people on the ground. BOLO Pakistan aims to start the conversation and engage the strong constituency that exists in Pakistan and abroad, who feel strongly about the destruction of diversity in our country. The ambition is to create a space for this agenda in politics. In Pakistani society, it is common to see whoever speaks louder wins. The more the majority stays quiet, the more space we surrender to the bigots for their agenda of hate. We want to encourage Pakistanis to speak up and take back the space and put this agenda at the forefront during upcoming elections. Our message for all is to express their outrage on the genocide of our diversity and message for peace for all.

Overseas Pakistanis came up with BOLO Pakistan as a campaign to end the silence against injustice. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

It is indeed surprising to see how many people are scared to speak up against these injustices. We are making a statement by showing our faces, by coming out publically and putting real human faces to the inclusive section of our society. We have already seen enough of these fanatics!

Are you hopeful things will change with the 2013 elections?

The fact is that people are expecting change out of the election. We haven’t seen such anticipation and interest since 1988. These are signs enough to make us hopeful for the future of Pakistan. Real change, however, will take time.

There are structural impediments. National and provincial bodies hijack local development funds is the most glaring aspect; we should be the purview of local governments as election leverage. Voters then don’t vote for policy or vision, but are rather forced to vote on base developmental need.

As Pakistan develops a more meaningful experience with democracy, we expect people to shift their voting agenda from petty issues and focus more on deeper dialogue on the right direction that our country should take. 

Find them on Facebook.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2013.                      

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Athar Khan
    May 5, 2013 - 9:52PM

    Why do these people interfere in the affairs of Pakistan. They have left Pakistan. Who is paying for them.

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  • May 5, 2013 - 10:00PM

    The picture that say “NO H8″ is actually from a the No h8 campaign started in 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOH8_Campaign

    As exciting as it is for the Pakistani’s to start something like this and it IS a positive step, please be creative.

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  • Gp65
    May 5, 2013 - 11:55PM

    Good intentions. The good thing is that you are not underestimating the task on hand. All the very best.

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  • Observer
    May 6, 2013 - 2:37AM

    @Athar Khan: because people like you who stay in Pakistan are not capable of bringing about a change. The capable ones left because they could. Your sort stayed because you could not leave.

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  • abacus
    May 6, 2013 - 6:00AM

    @gp65, shut it.

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  • Humayun
    May 6, 2013 - 6:02AM

    Good initiative. I visited the page. Aim / Objective seems not that clear to me – Is it to engage overseas Pakistanis or aimed at minority / sectarian issues ? Former is broader and more inclusive, I believe.

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  • Yumna
    May 6, 2013 - 7:24AM

    @Athar Khan:
    Those who moved abroad are as Pakistani as the ones who stayed. The only difference is they contribute in different ways. And in no way is the contributions of those who left Pakistan any lesser than the contributions of those who stayed or vice-versa.

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  • Dilip
    May 6, 2013 - 11:19AM

    @Athar Khan: Those that moved abroad, send money to loved ones on a regular basis. They are keeping the economy of Pakistan rolling. Be gratefull!!!!

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  • gp65
    May 6, 2013 - 11:23AM

    @ET Mods: My post simply encourages the groups who are fighting against hate. There is nothing remotely negative about it and yet @abacus attacks me without any rationale and you allow it to be posted. Does it meet your guidelines? Is his post relevant to the topic or even to what I posted?

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  • Expat
    May 6, 2013 - 12:24PM

    @Athar Khan: They are the ones sending billions of dollars as remittance due to which Pakistan is surviving! May I know what are you doing for the country you are living in..??

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  • Feroz
    May 6, 2013 - 12:43PM

    Excellent initiative that must be strongly encouraged. If the country has to be pulled out of the quagmire in which it is stuck, it needs a helping hand from a larger section of the diaspora. Reject Hate, Bigotry and intolerance.

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  • May 6, 2013 - 1:46PM

    @Observer:
    If resident Pakistanis are incapable of bringing about change what do the people behind this campaign expect to accomplish? Do they want to replace the entire population of Pakistan with their own kind?

    These people are foreigners. Their loyalties lie with the country they migrated to. It is not concern for Pakistan that makes them act the way they do. It is arrogance. They want to force their way of life on resident Pakistanis the ones who actually live and toil in this land.

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  • sab sach heh
    May 6, 2013 - 5:38PM

    @ Athar Khan,
    But you DONT mind the millions in aid coming from us Or do you, Overseas Oor not we are Pakistani to the core unlike you…

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  • Maqsood Ahmed Ujjan
    May 6, 2013 - 6:09PM

    @Athar Khan
    These overseas Pakistanis have seen how other countries live. They see how much richer and better educated foreigners are. Overseas Pakistanis see that we are absolute zeros in science and technology. They see that we are heading to the abyss and that Pakistanis are gladly participating their own destruction.. Their eyes have been opened while ours are closed.

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  • Super Star
    May 6, 2013 - 6:22PM

    Stop the hate ! But a little hate is fine for the qadiyanis

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  • Irfan
    May 6, 2013 - 7:29PM

    @Observer : your observation is wrong. You left the home because you afraid of the situation. The people living there and facing them. Only they can bring the change.

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  • Water Bottle
    May 6, 2013 - 7:31PM

    @Super Star:
    “Stop the hate ! But a little hate is fine for the qadiyanis”

    I hope you meant it sarcastically as a joke.

    On a serious note, if I were an Ahmadi, I would be living under constant terror.

    This group should campaign against IK who is supporting the hatred and injustice against Ahmadis.

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