If you don't convert, I can't work with you
He promised full support only If I chose to convert, but said that he couldn't work with me because of my faith.
September 18, 2012
The past three months had been quite busy for me since I was working day and night researching a business venture. Being a new concept within the market, the prospects for the project were pretty high provided that it was carried out properly. However, I was short on the amount of funds required for the project. Eager and motivated to step into the world of business, I contacted a friend who introduced me to his uncle who, in turn, showed interest in my project.
His uncle was a retired senior government official and had sufficient experience of heading many organizations. On the other hand, he had a long beard and was a firm believer in ‘Peeri Mureedi’ (following a spiritual leader). Taking this into consideration, I made sure to inform him that I belonged to a minority group before we discussed the project any further. Luckily, his reaction was relatively positive and it seemed that it did not matter to him much.
This project meant everything to me.
I had gone against the will of my family and had extensively researched the details over the course of many sleepless nights. As a result of the ever-growing lawlessness within the country and the amount of tragedies that my family had experienced, they were more keen on sending me abroad for higher education and for possibly finding an opportunity to settle there permanently. On the other hand, I firmly believed that I had a bright future here if I pursued my project in Pakistan. I was eager to prove everybody wrong, unaware that my decision was going to come back and bite me.
As soon as I was done with compiling all the relevant material and data, I decided to conduct a meeting with my friend's uncle to finalise the preparations and begin working towards the launch of the product. There as I sat in his drawing room along with my friend, who was especially asked to accompany me, I came face to face with the bitter reality of the situation I was in.
The conversation started quite oddly.
He began by discussing what people had to say about my community, trying to convince me that there was still hope for me if I decided to change. He stressed that the products manufactured by my community or any working relationship was haraam since we were funded and supported by Jews! He concluded by stating that he will provide full support only If I chose to convert or else we can’t be partners merely because I was part of the minorities.
I was completely dumbfounded! My mouth open and shut but no words came out.
I just walked out and left the room, my respect for the man diminished by a great deal.
After going through numerous hardships in life and watching his three loved ones being killed one after the other, my father always used to say:
When fire erupts in a jungle, it doesn’t spare even a single tree in its way. It just keeps on going till there are no more trees left to be burnt.
The uprising in Balochistan doesn't seem like it will ever come to a halt. Initially, it was the settlers who were targeted but then the circle expanded. Today, the insurgency in the province has escalated to such an extent that even the tribal elders of the province hesitate to live a free life.
Slowly that poison has spread over other provinces of the country as well. Nobody considers oneself safe be it in Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Gilgit Baltistan. Even Punjab is no exception in terms of the rising sectarian intolerance. Things that one couldn’t even imagine are happening today in a country which once was the ‘Land of the Pure’. Everybody seems to be in a rat race to prove themselves purer than others.
But what happened to just loving and accepting people for who they are?
The question then arises is that can any ruler, any analyst or any media guru forecast the situation that Pakistan would be facing in the coming few years if such intolerance within our society keeps on escalating at the same pace?
I believe that the answer would be one which we do not want to hear.
That little episode that I faced in the drawing room was enough to help me make up my mind. I now believe that there is hardly any place for me in a society that seems to have forgotten its basic roots and principles. There is a whole world out there filled with opportunities and it’s about time that I start exploring them.
I guess, Pakistan doesn't want me any more.
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