Uniting Pakistan’s minority and majority

Published: March 3, 2011
The writer is the author of two novels: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; and Moth Smoke (2000)

The writer is the author of two novels: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; and Moth Smoke (2000)

There’s a nurse I know in Lahore. She’s tall and stocky, middle-aged. She is on call 24 hours a day and works six days a week. She’s also a freelance headhunter, placing cooks and drivers and maids. She sleeps little. She has five children she hopes to give better lives. Last year, she donated time and money to flood victims.

She is a Pakistani Christian. And on Wednesday, I saw her weep.

She was staring at a TV set. It was reporting the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s federal minister for minorities, a Roman Catholic. “What’s going to happen to Christians in this country?” she asked me.

I had no answer. But her question is searingly important. A country should be judged by how it treats its minorities. To the extent it protects them, it stands for the ennobling values of empathy and compassion, for justice rooted, not in might, but in human equality, and for civilisation instead of savagery.

Pakistan ought to be exemplary in this regard. After all, ours is a nation of minorities: A patchwork of cultures, ethnicities, languages and sects. Since independence, we’ve tried to use Islam to bind us together, to undo our inherent and pervasive minority-ness. After the country split in 1971, these appeals to religion expanded under ZA Bhutto and reached previously unimaginable extents under Ziaul Haq. They have continued to intensify ever since.

One problem with this approach, of course, has been that our religious minorities, a twentieth of our population, have been left out of our grand national narratives. Five per cent may seem like a small proportion, but in absolute numbers it includes almost 10 million Pakistanis, which equals everyone in Tunisia, or one-and-half times all of Libya. If Pakistan’s religious minorities were a country, they would be more populous than half the members of the UN.

So how have they been treated by Pakistan? Shamefully. They are looked down upon, discriminated against, physically threatened and not infrequently killed. They are second-class citizens in every sense. Nor has our state offered them much support. Indeed, our state has been actively involved in their oppression.

None of this is new, of course. So, for those of us fortunate enough to belong to the religious majority, does it even matter?

Yes. Desperately. Minority relations are a microcosm of society. Each individual human being is, after all, a minority of one. And, as Pakistan becomes a country at war with its minorities, it is becoming a country at war with its individuals, with itself, with you and with me, with the human desire to be allowed to believe what we believe. In this direction lies Orwellian Newspeak, an inability to say what we mean, a condition of external dishonesty that inevitably leads to internal dishonesty. Orwell imagined the result of this to be something he called doublethink: People holding “simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them.”

I find it difficult to imagine a better description of many of our TV talk show hosts — or much of our public discourse — today.

There are three main political positions we hear over and over in Pakistan, and all three are suffused with doublethink. There is the national security position: ‘America is our enemy; America should give us more aid.’ The privileged liberal position: ‘There should be equal rights for all; I should not have to share my riches with the poor.’ And the (remarkably similar) ambitious cleric position: ‘Religion makes us all equal; only I decide what religion says.’

It is unsurprising that the privileged liberal position is the one most often associated with attempts to protect the rights of religious minorities in our country. It is also unsurprising that it has been largely unpersuasive.

The good news, from a religious minority standpoint, is that the other positions are equally incoherent. (The bad news is that they are much more willing to resort to violence in support of their arguments.)

What Pakistan’s religious minorities need, therefore, is a new position, a position that champions equality while, and this is the tricky part, also championing equality. In other words, a position that dispenses with the illusion that equality can be enhanced in a society prostrate before either its rich or its clerics.

Such a position would also be to the benefit of the country’s economic majority, its poor. For they, too, are looked down upon, discriminated against, physically threatened and not infrequently killed. They, too, are second-class citizens. They, too, have been actively oppressed by our state.

At its heart, our country’s toxic treatment of its religious minorities is intertwined with its toxic treatment of its impoverished majority. Both groups suffer from the denial of our common humanity. And that, paradoxically, offers great hope. For we can reject false dichotomies between our clerical and our liberal positions, between our minorities and our majority. We can begin the search for common ground that has eluded us as a nation thus far.

We might, for example, shift from disputes over blasphemy laws to actually delivering due process of law, from arguments over curbing radical madrassas to actually building a high-quality state education system, from alternately buying off and fighting tribal chieftains to actually empowering local tribespeople.

Our problems are not insurmountable. Pakistan is, simply put, a land that mistreats its minorities and its majority. It is ripe for a revolution, except that it already has many trappings of democracy: Elected assemblies, free media, independent judges. A revolution in our thinking and behaviour, brought about by sustained pressure from below, is what is really called for.

Let us be clear: The messy but effective compromises we require can only come about through the dramatically improved functioning of our democracy. But a better-functioning democracy is feared by many with vested interests who benefit from the impaired system we currently have. They must be convinced otherwise.

Above all, we must convince our powerful national security state. Rationally, it is clear that under our current policies, Pakistan is becoming ever less secure. The stability and growth that a well-functioning democracy could bring is our country’s best chance of escaping from its ‘eagerly-dependent-on-enemy-America’ strategic incoherence. Unless, that is, our national security doublethink really boils down to this: ‘I will protect you; you are the threat.’

For the sake of our vulnerable, which is to say, in different ways, just about all of us, I hope this is not the case. Too much Pakistani blood has already been shed and too many Pakistanis have already gone to bed hungry.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2011.


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Reader Comments (66)

  • Shehrbano
    Mar 3, 2011 - 11:28PM

    A confused, incoherent and rambling article.Recommend

  • Noor Nabi
    Mar 3, 2011 - 11:45PM

    A very thoughtful article written by a man with a conscience and the courage of his convictions. To boot, he is also an original thinker. Only such expressions of thought can reverse the Islamo-fascism taking hold in society. The religion of Islam has nothing to do with fascism. And the Pakistani society should take every step to reverse the disturbing trends. Recommend

  • justar
    Mar 3, 2011 - 11:46PM

    Mohsin – effective change has to come from below – as you suggest.

    Of the current political leaders Pakistanis have to choose from, each represents his/her own interest group (eg Kashmiri Punjabis or Sindhis etc).

    Is there anyone under whom a broad category of Pakistanis can unite?

    It would be heartening to see an MQM leader genuinely working for the benefit of Pathans and vice-versa.

    Fools paradise?Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:10AM

    @author: “Uniting Pakistan’s minority and majority.”

    Unfortunately you are talking about achieving something that goes against the core tenets of Islam. For unity, there is to be equality between believers and non-believers. Does modern day Islam sanction that ? Even showcase Muslims states such as Indonesia and Malaysia have “troubles” with non Bumiputra or Malay citizens.

    So, ultimately, you are chasing a pipe dream.Recommend

  • Zubair Torwali
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:26AM

    The results of a forced identity
    Much has been written; and much has been put in the general educational curriculum of Pakistan about its identity as a sole Islamic state. The school and college text books are full of fictitious stories about the identity of Pakistan. Being on very confused ideological grounds since its very inception, Pakistan has been struggling in pursuit of an identity for the last sixty three years. In the Pakistan Studies Text books we are told that the struggle for Pakistan started with the invasion of Sindh by Muhammad Bin Qasim in 711 AD. Reading such texts it, seems that Pakistan history begins with the first Arab arrived in the land centuries ago. But what we know that the struggle for a separate homeland was started after 1940, and that, too, in a mist.
    Whatever the cause behind the partition; whether it was the fear of the expansion of the communism in the region felt by the colonialists or the Muslim’s pursuit for an identity, Pakistan was made a reality in 1947.
    A look at the history for the rights of Muslims in the Sub-Continent shows that it was actually a struggle to get more and more privileges for the Muslims of the united India. Lacking a clear vision; and suffering from an identity crisis the Muslim leaders could not define the future of the new nation based on religion, as they propagated.
    When Pakistan appeared on the map of the world the leaders faced a dilemma. They were trying to look for a rationale behind the bloody separation. An analysis of the situation indicates that they needed some firm grounds in order to legitimize the birth of the new country. They found some clue in the writings of Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan who had reportedly warned the Muslims of his age to be vigilant of their co-countrymen, the Hindus. Whether he was serious about it or not, nobody scrutinized the reasons. Upon his statement the ideologues for the Muslim nationhood built a ‘two nation theory’ cutting the long cultural roots of the Muslims of the sub-continent. Getting thus detached the Muslims, the ideologues tried to link them with the Arabs through the knots of religion.
    Religion could be a part of the culture but not vice versa. Culture has a vast meaning within it. Religion, in a pure anthropological sense, can be a reforming movement within the culture. The anthropological studies suggest that culture of any nation or nationality undergoes changes with a few very distinct processes. The main processes of the cultural change are diffusion, innovation, acculturation and syncretism.
    In the beginning when Islam came to this land it was syncretism of Islam and the prevailing worldview of the region which was promoted by the Sufis of subcontinent. The two were amalgamated and conformity was to some extent produced.
    It was perhaps through this syncretism that the Muslims were able to rule India for centuries. There was harmony, cohesion and cooperation between the various religions here because the people still used to adhere to their roots.
    But with the colonial invasion of India a big shift took place in the political; and consequently in the social fabrics of the society. It is now a fact widely accepted that the White Man drastically distorted balance in societies wherever he went.
    As a result of the White Man’s invasion of India unrest started within the society. This created tensions, communal issues and an imbalance in the modes of production. Thus a class war started disguised under faith.
    At last the united India was divided on the basis of religion. After this divide Pakistan faced a crisis of identity. Rationalizing the creation of a new state religion was used as everything under the sun. The two nation theory was further brandished and expounded ferociously.
    Being new and isolated from its South Asian culture, Pakistan needed tangible cultural roots. Spaces were already produced in its existence by isolating it from its indigenous culture. Even many distinct and ancient identities within Pakistan were denied. A one religion-one-language policy was forcefully adopted but the result was unfortunately more unrest and turmoil. Heroes of former times were made villains and the latter heroes. A disconnect was thus created in the society.
    These gaps were forcefully filled with two apparently opposing but imperialist cultures, one from the east with its pressure under the religion while the other from the west with its economic pressure. To the people of Pakistan both were alien. A new clash thus emerged. The poor Pakistan oscillated between the deep sea and the deep river. Both these extremes left the country in the lurch.
    What Pakistan is facing now is the result of this identity crisis and the consistent and arrogant denial of the cultures within the country.
    Within Pakistan the various entities must be given their identity by incorporating their say in the decision making of the federation otherwise we will soon see more models of Bangladesh here. The Balochs were pushed to the wall. While we hollowly celebrate Pakistan Independence Day in Punjab but in Balochistan they celebrate it as a ‘black day’. On the other side the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhaw are now weary of the futile strategic interests on their dead bodies. There are very grave concerns in KP over what is going on in the name of strategic depth. Similarly, in Karachi dozens of people fell each day.
    These are the results of the denial of identities and due share in the country affairs to the federating units. More security and more military operations just aggravate the situation. It is time to get into the shoes of Balochs, Pakhtuns, Sindhis and other ethnic identities of Pakistan otherwise it will be too late.Recommend

  • Dr+Dev+Mishra
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:33AM

    Mohsin, loved your novel The reluctant fundamentalist- was it fiction or a mirror to contemporary society.
    Can I also congratulate you on having avoided the ‘h’ and the ‘I’ words in your existential analysis. The ‘hindus’ and ‘India’ words were not raised and I, an Indian, should be happy. And yet I am going to drag them into the discussion, for they are crucial to it.
    Crucial, because, barring this anti-Americanism which is recent and topical, Pakistan has a very violent undercurrent of hatred against the Indian hindu and sikh without, which translates itself as hatred towards the hindus and christians within.
    That Sir, is my hypothesis. Treat this hatred and you have cured yourself.
    Dr Dev Mishra, of UK and IndiaRecommend

  • pl/sql
    Mar 4, 2011 - 1:08AM

    It’s interesting how even the people who voice concern for christian and other minorities in Pakistan AND EVEN THEIR “LIBERALS” are either scared and are indifferent to mention the word “HINDU” in their discussion.

    The author has done the same thing very shamelessly even though Hindus are treated like sub humans in Pakistan.

    Well done for keeping up with the Pakistani tradition sir.Recommend

  • Goga
    Mar 4, 2011 - 1:16AM

    What is the point of this article?Recommend

  • Haris Chaudhry
    Mar 4, 2011 - 2:38AM

    Its ironic how a country that was formed on the basis of “better treatment” for the Muslim minorities in pre-partition India subjects its own minorities to such injustices.

    How cruel and insane that we still go about justifying laws and rituals in present day Pakistan that discriminate against the minorities but always cherish the partition for which millions of people lost their lives to create more rights for the muslim minority…!

    Sad lot of hypocrites we are !

    Haris ChaudhryRecommend

  • Amaar
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:23AM

    Mohsin Hamid’s article is one of the most powerful, incisive and coherent arguments I have read recently on Pakistan. I would ask him to present his ideas in Urdu for the masses. We hold one set of ideas in English, quite another in Urdu. It is time to rid ourselves of the Orwellian ‘double-vernacular’.Recommend

  • sandy
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:37AM

    For three decades, deep forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the centuries old moderate, tolerant ideas of Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the violent, intolerant and extreme views of Arabian peninsula. This continental drift is not physical but cultural, driven by a belief that Pakistan must exchange its South Asian identity for an violent Arab-Muslim one which is not the historic nature of the people who belong to this region of Indian Subcontinent. This change is by design of politicians and military to control power by sacrificing common people. Being detached from its 6000 year old indian history, today Entire Pakistan has no identity of itself and taking refuge in violent form of religion to assert its existence.Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2011 - 3:49AM

    The problem is that they are too many interest groups and stakeholders who have accumulated power and resources, who today have an incentive in fostering and encouraging intolerance, and that too of the violent kind – which can then celebrate martyrdom and sacrifice. These groups will continue to persecute the weak to sustain their agenda. Thats why its even more important for those of us who are in the middle to close ranks behind the persecuted and show unequivocally that no sort of violence, regardless of the motivation is ever justified. Recommend

  • Ali
    Mar 4, 2011 - 6:28AM

    This article couldn’t be far from realityRecommend

  • Mar 4, 2011 - 8:20AM

    Just like Hindus and Sikhs have been moving to India slowly since past 63 years, christian should also look forward to this option. I guess even for liberals it should be more important that these people are safe than to asking them to stay back and suffer more.Recommend

  • Rahul
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:13AM

    There should not be State Religion in any country, discrimination against minorities are bound to take place if a State adhere to any Religion. It is important that Pakistan become a Secular State.Recommend

  • John
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:37AM

    Well, what you speak of is secularism really, but the constitution of Pakistan does not permit it. To empower minorities the majority has a sacred obligation to protect them in speech, thought, action, and in Religion even if it is against the majority view. This is what the Pakistan Islamic citizens enjoy out side of Pakistan. If the state as a policy defines who is an Islamic (majority) citizen with its second constitutional amendment, then what chance do members of different faith,who by constitution can not even become the President of their own country, have?

    The author shifts the blame to a faceless entity and suggests that the plight of both majority and minority is the same. The faceless entity the author tries to blame is none other than the majority, since it is the majority that defined the current state of the minorities in Pakistan, the poor, the hungry, the meek, and now the voiceless, in their constitution and remained apathetic towards them for 60+ years.

    The people of Pakistan should remember the Lahore Declaration now enshrined and buried under the monument. May be the ET should publish the Lahore declaration after changing the words, Musalmans to Christians and Hindu to Musalmans.

    Then again who is going to do that. It can be Blasphemy. Recommend

  • Sehar
    Mar 4, 2011 - 10:10AM

    Extremely well written! Thank you for being a voice of sanity.Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2011 - 11:25AM

    Everything you say is true but what about the most powerful institution in Pakistan – the army. It is the army that encourages this grand national narrative of an Islamic state threatened by India so that it can consume most of the country’s resources. It suits the army just fine to have a weak and ineffectual civilian government to bear the brunt of public criticism while it calls the shots. The so called “Islamic curriculum” dated from Zia’s time is still being taught in
    schools can you really expect a different outcome? The crux of the matter is that the combination of religion and politics is a toxic cocktail. As soon as you create a division based on a religion that immediately sets the stage for other divisions , such as the one I was a witness to in 1971, and so on until you have sectarian warfare, ethnic warfare etc. I was a Pakistani once but I really did not want to be in a country that treated its minorities so poorly. Lets face facts. The creation of Pakistan opened a Pandora’s Box and now there is no way to put a lid on it no matter how much you try. You can call me a pessimist but things have gotten worse, much much worse in the 25 years that I have been watching.Recommend

  • samar
    Mar 4, 2011 - 11:50AM

    pakistan does not need to know ‘what to do.” ‘how to do it’ is the question. sorry to say hamid does not suggest any answer. Recommend

  • Usman N
    Mar 4, 2011 - 11:51AM

    Excellent! A well written and accurate depiction of our state.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:05PM

    Why bother with such trivialities? – Pakistan has it’s “Strategic Assets”, which give it “Strategic Depth”, is the Land of the Pure and the Citadel of Islam. Not to speak of the Bomb!Recommend

  • John
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:14PM

    For this PAK has to change the constitution beginning from is preamble. Please see the constitution history of PAK, to understand why PAK took so many years to ratify the first constitution that was only short lived. Religion was a key issue more so than the autonomy of the provinces.Recommend

  • M. Tauseef Barlas
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:28PM

    we must agree that we have failed in most of field. everybody shift his responsiblity to others. we do not love our country.
    we run two education systems and keeps remembering our past, but hate to think about future.
    future is in education. give good education to children and you will see difference, but nobody is interested.
    What about water threat? Nobody is taking it seriously. when india will stop all water they whole national will wake up.Recommend

  • M. Tauseef Barlas
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:29PM

    @Sophia Pandeya:

    Once it was a lovely country, but now……………Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:47PM


    It might be better to unite Pakistan’s majority, instead of Majority & Minority! At least then there will be clarity on following:

    If Pakistan is ruled by Law or Mullah
    If Pakistanis have the final word or the Army

    It’ll let the minorities of Pakistan and world decide on their future course about Pakistan.Recommend

  • Murtad
    Mar 4, 2011 - 1:00PM

    The problem is Islam and its rabid Mullahs and Maulvis. Vast majority of Muslims are just mute spectators virtually doing nothing, except ofcourse listening to the rabid talk of Mullahs every Friday. Pakistan is totally screwed up.Recommend

  • Balwinder Sandhu
    Mar 4, 2011 - 2:02PM

    Absolutely brilliant paragraph by Dr Mishra before, I enclose a sample line-

    ….The ‘hindus’ and ‘India’ words were not raised and I, an Indian, should be happy. And yet I am going to drag them into the discussion, for they are crucial to it.
    ….. Pakistan has a very violent undercurrent of hatred against the Indian hindu and sikh without, which translates itself as hatred towards the hindus and christians within……Recommend

  • Rahul
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:22PM

    History can’t be changed but constitution can be amended. It’s never too late to do it when the very existence of a nation is under threat. Pakistan should emulate at least this aspect from Indian Constitution. Constitution of India not only give equal protection to minorities but even some special privileges are provided to them. In spite of few aberrations minorities in India are safe and satisfied.Recommend

    Mar 4, 2011 - 6:35PM

    @ALL –

    why do we need to save minorities when our own muslim brothers are fighting amongst themselves and killing each other!?

    Why why why

  • M M Malik
    Mar 4, 2011 - 7:46PM

    The vast majority of Muslims in Pakistan follow fiqah Hanfi. In fiqah Hanfi there is worldly punishment for blasphemy. However, the followers of Hanfi fiqah overlook this and follow others who advocate a death penalty for blasphemy. The catalyst to this change is the Mullah’s distorted preaching to safeguard his bread and butter.Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Mar 4, 2011 - 7:47PM

    The vast majority of Muslims in Pakistan follow fiqah Hanfi. In fiqah Hanfi there is no worldly punishment for blasphemy. However, the followers of Hanfi fiqah overlook this and follow others who advocate a death penalty for blasphemy. The catalyst to this change is the Mullah’s distorted preaching to safeguard his bread and butter.Recommend

  • Village Idiot
    Mar 4, 2011 - 8:51PM

    Armada of Dark-ness is marching in every street of country. May Gods of Heaven save us all.Recommend

  • Ayesha
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:44PM

    Thanks Mohsin for this…good to see people coming up with solutions too rather than just lamenting our problems…

    And thank you for living in Pakistan by choice…I take great consolation in the fact that you continue to live here when you have the choice to move anywhere else…Recommend

  • mohammad khan
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:48PM

    It is utterly shocking for any sane Pakistani to see these killings in the name of our religion by Muslims. These murderers and their supporters have done more damage to Islam than any enemies of Islam could ever do and by appeasement to these murderer and hate mongers our religion is under greatest threat. there is no concept of conservatism and liberalism in Islam ALLAH SWT tells us about the sacredness of life in Quran that one who kills one life he is killed entire humanity the one who saved one life has saved all humanity our Prophet SAW showed us his tolerance when he prayed for people of Taif after they injured him. Our Prophet signed a covenant with the Christians for their safety for all times to come. The Christian countries where millions of Muslim are living have more freedom to practice Islam than in their own Muslim countries and are free to spread Islam. I belong to the in side of the Lahore city I know how emotional we are when it comes to the religion matters and I know how suicidal it would be for any body let alone a Christian to utter any insult to our Prophet SAW or to Quran people will tear that person apart on the spot no question of waiting to file police report and letting the courts decide the fate of that person. But this blasphemy law was made not protect our religion it has become a tool to harass the minorities any one can for personal animosity can register a case under this law. This is man made law it is being abused we need to have nation wide campaign to save Islam and take our religion back from these enemies of Islam. Till the late 70’s I never saw this kind intolerance in our nation the Islam became the fastest growing religion in the world the only way the enemies of Islam could stop this spread was to attach these murderers and hate mongers and intolerant element to hijack Islam and we Muslims just never saw it coming. Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:59PM

    @Village Idiot: “Armada of Dark-ness is marching in every street of country. May Gods of Heaven save us all.”

    I see mushroom clouds.Recommend

  • Alice de Tocqueville
    Mar 4, 2011 - 11:42PM

    A tragic irony; almost all of this discussion could, with only particular names changed, describe exactly the conflict in the US. That is, fundamentalist so-called Christians (who bear no resemblance to the preachings of Jesus), are manipulated by their ‘mullahs’ for their own wealth, and by the national security state, for the rationale of endless war, supposedly against “terrorism”, but really for profit!

    Thus religion is used to so inflame this large minority in the US that they consistently vote against their own empowerment and well-being. If they were true christians they would see through this. Though I am a devout atheist, I know that Jesus preached NO Priests, No Church, only your conscience, and that your love for yourself affirms your brotherhood with all human beings. Just as my love for my children means love for all children and the parents who love them.Recommend

  • kiran
    Mar 5, 2011 - 1:44AM

    mohsin please please start producing the same quality as before. Your Granta piece was mediocre and your fatherhood piece in The Paper cringe-worthy. I hope it isn’t the experience of being a child-rearer that had made you go soft and taken away your edge. I’m a huge fan and standing right behind you cheering you on ! Recommend

  • Rashed Khan
    Mar 5, 2011 - 9:53AM

    Spectacularly ingenious.Recommend

  • ahmed
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:30AM

    @Noor Nabi:
    AAMEEN !Recommend

  • ahmed
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:31AM

    @Vicram Singh:
    Agreed, Sir.Recommend

  • ahmed
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:37AM


    Dr. Dev ji,

    Hatred can not be cured by religion.

    By humanism ?, perhaps. + enlightenment—————-this may take lightyears !Recommend

  • ahmed
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:41AM

    Yes—————-go to the regional languages press.
    In English=language newspapers it is preaching to the convertedRecommend

  • ahmed
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:50AM

    not just a secular state, but one with a totally secular mindset.Recommend

  • Sana Ansari
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:52AM

    When the majority is mistreated there isn’t much hope for the minorities. The whole country is feeling the lack of justice and basic rights, rampant corruption.. sigh, the list goes on…

    It is interesting, the way you have expressed the contradictions our three main political viewpoints are imbibed with. Indeed it is difficult… Where people are segregated along deep-rooted provincial and linguistic lines, religion becomes yet another pawn in the broad scheme of things.

    Paradoxically, as a nation, whether Muslim, Christian or Hindu, there exist millions of Pakistanis who fall through the sieve of the three main political viewpoints you have highlighted; all feeling the wave of discontent with the current state of affairs. In this we are united. We are united in the loss of what we are losing… the beauty in our country, our past and our identity.

    I’m not going to break into a nostalgic rant, but I do want to point out that we have become hostile and insecure, losing the best out of what makes us different from each other. Instead of celebrating our provincial and religious differences, we have brought each others weaknesses to the fore because we have lost trust. Depending on the latter has morphed into a self fulfilling prophecy…Recommend

  • umar
    Mar 5, 2011 - 11:21AM


    Its all true to me but most of these ignorant so called educated people in Pakistan
    can never wants Pakistan to become one nation but will always looks his own people
    who is muslim and who is christian that is why we are far behind of all the nations who
    are getting happy and getting towards Prosperity, feel very very sad for all these poeple.
    I did born in Pakistan and lived 24 years so dont tell me that i am wrong i have seen all
    this Discrimination with my on eyes.Recommend

  • umar
    Mar 5, 2011 - 11:34AM


    i totally agree with you and i think there is another thing is the lack of education
    that’s why all these mullas use them as there donkeys and all stupid peopel fellows themRecommend

  • Mar 5, 2011 - 12:24PM

    @mohammad khan

    1.The Christian countries where millions of Muslim are living have more freedom to practice Islam than in their own Muslim countries
    2.this blasphemy law was made not protect our religion it has become a tool to harass the minorities
    3.the only way the enemies of Islam could stop this spread was to attach these murderers and hate mongers and intolerant element to hijack Islam and we Muslims just never saw it coming.

    You prove the author’s point about Double Speak and Double Think. Even though non-muslims are more liberal and even though a man made law is used to harass minorities, the blame must lie with the same non-muslim enemies of Islam.Poor muslims never saw it coming.
    Wake up, sir.Recommend

  • Dr+Dev+Mishra
    Mar 5, 2011 - 12:32PM

    @Ahmed and Sandhu, thank you for reading and appreciating my comments which are published almost near the top.
    Ahmed, your observation is thought provoking. Yes, maybe religion cannot cure hatred. But a combination of goodwill in the community forced by some introspection, govt legislation, change in Pak school textbooks, more robust leaders and above all, a sensible (not shrieking) media will cure this hatred.
    I disagree with you on how long it will take- once the process starts, then Pak can cleanse itself in 15-20 yearsRecommend

  • Mar 5, 2011 - 1:46PM

    You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?Recommend

  • Emilly
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:13PM

    There most peaceful and loving peoples are Ismaili muslim over in the world, they neither fight nor hate any other peoples of different faith. They loves every peoples equally. All the the other muslim should learn from them. they even have not killed a singal person till now. they live so peacefully… i love them to much… Recommend

  • Emilly
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:14PM

    Correct… The most peacefu**Recommend

    Mar 5, 2011 - 11:38PM

    The minorities in Pakistan will continue to be treated harshly and unjustly untill the country becomes totally secular. However, this change during present scenario appears to be highly improbable since the ruling party is too weak to even consider the same. Moreover, the high profile federal ministers advocating amending of blasphemy laws have been silenced by their brutal assasination and a chilling message was also conveyed that anybody who dares to take up religious based issues will meet the same fate. Any takers of this warning, issued by the Punjabi Taleban who has the backing of your powerful military and also Punjab govt? Recommend

  • Avanti
    Mar 6, 2011 - 5:26AM

    @Zubair Torwali:

    Goos analysis.

    Pakistan’s identity is defined by India, that is, anti-India. The irony is, Pakistanis associate themselves with Indians (and vice versa) in every which way, but they want to make themselves look like Arabs who treat Pakistanis (and Indians) like dogs. This is where Pakistan is stuck!

    Learn from Bangladesh. They are Bengali 1st and then Muslims. They care about the country 1st, and then the religion. Look at the Germans, French, and Americans. All Christians, but their priority is their motherland. They all have maintained their cultural heritage.

    Pakistan is probably the only country in the world which is not proud to it’s cultural heritage. India is probably the only country in the world which integrated so many cultures into its own, the result of which can be seen in music, dance, education, and in every walk of life. Recommend

  • George
    Mar 6, 2011 - 11:23AM

    As an Indian christian, I think its time for India to open up immigration to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians & any other non Muslim minority in Pakistan. Likewise Pakistan should open up immigration for Indian Muslim’s who don’t like living in a secular country. Recommend

  • Probyn
    Mar 6, 2011 - 12:37PM


    really? rambling? confused? were you reading the same article or just have issues with basic comprehension.Recommend

  • akash
    Mar 6, 2011 - 12:51PM

    @john.. agree wholeheartedly.. when you define yourself as Islamic republic then that says it all.. i think it is time for sane silent majority to come out of streets.. if they can shower rose petals on killers then it is time for people to come out and let extrimist know that it is not right.. come out on streets like egypt or tunisia.. have a candle light vigil (it has become almost 2nd habit of civil society in India).. come out in full force and make government think.. put pressure on them.. let them know what other side of spectrum think.. may be that will change discourse in TV channels.. it may be risky and dangerous but i think thats what pakistan needs now… may be make a facebook page against extrimism.. Recommend

  • John
    Mar 6, 2011 - 11:20PM

    @Ali: @Rahul: @Alice de Tocqueville:
    In continuing the discussion, I would like to say this. In the US when segregation was practiced on Blacks, the other people whole heartedly realized their injustice, and walked with blacks in protests and went to jail- Jews, Christians, Hindus, yes Hindus, and atheists . Some whites including a governor candidate was FOR segregation and he was soundly defeated. The federal Govt sent in national guards (army reserves), nearly all whites to the states where the local state Govt was supporting the segregation -conflict of constitutional power between Federal and State in this move to establish a simple principle: All are created equal and have equal protection under the law.
    The same thing happened when universities in south and white schools refused to admit black students, and the federal government went to extraordinary length to protect the rights of less than 10 black students. Now the same university has a black president(chancellor).
    All this is to establish a simple principle stated above and white church sermons preached injustices of the blacks to white at that time. All this happened between 1950-60s and in two generations Americans overwhelmingly elected Obama. Not even Clinton or Bush got these many electoral votes. The least unlikely candidate, nobody in outsiders point of view. The reason for his election was his Message Not the policy to Americans.
    Now school children read, learn, and discuss as early as 3rd grade about the injustices against black. They also openly discuss and acknowledge the early white settlements killings of native Americans. They do not hide the past, see the truth as it is, try and find a solution for betterment of all. Only in America the president and mayor stand for the right of Muslims to build a mosque near 9/11 attack site when the irrational national emotions are high.
    When apartheid was practiced in South Africa, India was the first country initially who championed the black south african causes. At the time Indian passport did not even permit it’s citizen to travel to S. Africa.

    All these things happened in history again and again only due to a simple principle. When that principle is JUST or dharma, it always win against all odds in the end. No religion can tell what that JUST is. Every one will know it to their core of their bone, when they are confronted with it.

    History has shown that it is always a simple person that points out such a profound changes in society. US had Rosa Park, India had Gandhi and also mother Theresa to point them out the inequality of Hindu society. Now in Pakistan it is the Poor Christian lady Bibi who brought the injustices to open, and two ministers died to protect THAT principle. What THAT is in Pakistan soil only the people of Pakistan can define.

    If citizens of Pakistan are really concerned about the welfare of their country, walk with the poor Christians who clean your streets in support of them, send money, letter, and flower to Bibi in prison, not to the Governors killer as you did on Valentines day.

    You can not blame a few for the ills around you. Where were you when your neighbor was hungry, and thirsty? Where were you when the ills were around you? Can you answer these questions to your children when they ask?

    The moment comes rarely and when it comes it shakes the nation. Cease the moment or it will pass away. Bibi is your moment, as Rosa Park was for US. Peace.Recommend

  • Stephen Jones
    Mar 7, 2011 - 2:55AM

    @Alice de Tocqueville:
    Sorry Alice but..when did the last Christian suicide bomber strike in the USA? Violence inspired by religion seems to be an almost daily occurence in Pakistan. That isn’t the case in the USA. Your last sentence about the “national security state” and “profit” seem to be the typical ramblings of a conspiracy theorist.Recommend

  • Amin m
    Mar 7, 2011 - 11:43PM

    Well said. Glad u mentioned poverty, which along with inequality and injustice, are the root causes. Recommend

  • Mujtaba
    Mar 8, 2011 - 5:17AM

    I agree with your analysis on the issue of religious minorities in Pakistan. All oppression is rooted in economic oppression. This includes religious oppression. Our liberal elite would be wise to take note of your insights.

    Good job.Recommend

  • Mujtaba
    Mar 8, 2011 - 5:56AM

    @Stephen Jones:
    Jones, for a country that does not have Pakistan’s social, economic, and political troubles, America does not have the most stellar record when it comes to tolerance, religious or otherwise either. Park 51, Gabrielle Giffords shooting, Bombing of Florida Mosque, Irvine 11, Oklahoma amendment banning Sharia, Terry Jones’ Quran burning, Peter King’s hearings, flying of a plane into the IRS building in Texas, on and on. Not trying to minimize Pakistan’s problems, just saying that problems are not unique to certain religions, cultures, or countries. Our problems are shared, as are our hopes. Recommend

  • smar
    Mar 8, 2011 - 7:56PM

    The problem that we face in Pakistan is not one of religion, cultural atrophy but a lack of our elites to listen to the aspiration of common people. For sixty years they keep dreaming the dream of Iqbal, Jinnah and self appointed spokesmen, instead of pushing aside the limits of these icons and to come to terms with the people’s history of Pakistan. The anger that seethes in society is easily captured by those who are waiting to channel it to target

    Pakistani state has been cruel to the very people, and communities that made it possible. Here I am not talking about the people we call Muhajirs but Bengalis who mobilized in masses and helped pass the Lahore resolution. Right from the start the Pakistan state started by telling them that their vernacular was not suitable for the national language. Its not just the problem of majority and minority but the problem of coming to terms with who we are, there is no natural Pakistan but rather one that has to be made, and struggled for not as a utopia but a hospitable place to call home that welcomes all who belong to it or come to call it home.

    We are always snipping at ourselves when there still is great decency in personal acts, generosity of people even in times of great challenges. We should not let these events define Pakistan but rather to come out in solidarity of so called ‘minorities’ and tell the fascists that we are all Shhahbaz Bhatti and We are all Ahmedi’s, Shia’s, Pakistanis


  • Abdul-Mughis Rana
    Mar 8, 2011 - 10:33PM

    1.Islam is moderate, tolerant and much more nice but the problem is that it takes a follower of Almighty and the Prophet peace be upon him to practice complete Islam which it requires from every follower.
    2. But its worth trying as one gets paid twice, more and real in the hereafter but that requires switching self (nafs) off which is the real thing.
    3. Generally, born Muslims have not been able to fare well after “The Muslims” so now the new Muslims must come forward but the World or its people may or may not be able to appreciate but this has to be done for the Almighty.
    4. Rest of the Muslims should now start concentrating on their own deeds referring to what is in the books and lives of the Muslims in the past for our own deeds.

    May ALLAH SWT help us all! Recommend

  • Raj
    Mar 9, 2011 - 4:46PM

    @Emilly..Ismailis are educated and visionary..Ahmedias are also very educated. Only Nobel Prize winner from Pakistan is an Ahmedia muslimRecommend

  • Abdul-Mughis Rana
    Mar 16, 2011 - 9:15PM

    @Balwinder Sandhu:
    @Vicram Singh:
    My elders were from Simli & Haryana East Punjab I really wish to visit both the places as soon as I can. I am a Ghoraywah Rajpoot. Hope you all are well and enjoying life.
    I understand you all have studied Islam and must be trying to put jigsaw of a present day Muslim in the Islam which is in books and writings, I pray to God to show us all the right path you will one day, Insha ALLAH, be better and real Muslim than any born one like me. Its THE RELIGION which Creator of everything has chosen for ALL HUMANS none of us born Muslims can ever ever claim till death that I was the best of the rest. Islam though very simple to follow but needs a real beleiver of GOD and his Prophet pbuh. Infact, new Muslims converted to Islam out of their own conviction prove to be way ahead.
    Generally the CARE which a Muslim is required to adhere to is mistaken as hatred we are supposed to love human to the extent our Prophet pbuh did at the same time taking care that no part of Kufr (not beleiving GOD with all his Powers), Shirq (sharing GOD in his powers) Bid’at (acting against Sunnat i.e.life of Prophet pbuh) may crept into our lives neither in lives of even other humans. (Continued)

    Lahore, Pakistan. Recommend

  • Zakaria Khan
    Mar 23, 2011 - 5:50PM

    On behalf of the Christians of Pakistan I would like to say,”there are many causes that we are prepared to die for but no causes we are prepared to kill for.” LONG LIVE PAKISTAN.Recommend

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