‘Stop calling us a minority if you want to include us’

Bringing people together for ‘table talk’ will help understand one another say minority leaders.

Express August 17, 2011


At one table at the MQM iftari stood out the “papal purple and the pagan orange”, to borrow from the Hollywood blockbuster Four Weddings and a Funeral. The MQM’s Nasreen Jalil sat with the guests from the churches, mandirs and gurdwaras to chat about Karachi’s state of affairs and what the party believed.

Later, Father Thomas Gulfam of the Catholic Church at Korangi Crossing spoke of changing the way people think at the grassroots level. “We are one; we are all the offspring of Adam and Eve. Once we accept this there will be no more war,” he said.

Even Shri Ram Nath Maharaj of the Shri Punch Mukhi Hanumman Mandir had happily noted that the party had brought people of all faiths, creed, colours and minds under one marquee. “This will go a long way in removing bias,” he said. “Some people will say don’t drink from the same glass or eat at the same table as a Hindu. Bringing people here together for ‘table talk’ will help us understand one another.” He felt that everyone needed to keep up with the custom of attending each other’s events.

He got a little ruffled when asked a question that contained the word “minority”. “We don’t know this minority-majority debate,” he remarked. “People need to decide where they classify us, but perhaps it’s best to just end this whole minority-majority business.” Indeed, the Hindus were also fasting. They were just two fasts ahead of the Muslims in their Sawaan rozas. “We all pray,” he said. “Our methods are just different.”

In these debates it seems as if the “minorities” are a little fed up with being painted into a corner. Goswami Vijay Maharaj told The Express Tribune that other religions need to stop seeing them as a “boaj” or burden. “We are also Pakistanis,” he said. “They have just set August 11 aside for us and then celebrate August 14.”

In principle, Maulana Shah Ferozuddin Rehmani agreed. “I think 99% of people want peace and harmony,” he said. “It is just that one per cent that creates havoc. We need to overpower them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.


My Name is Khan | 11 years ago | Reply

I wish 99% of Pakistanis really wanted to live in harmony. I don't think our minorities are so lucky. Even though I am Pashtun and I know the MQM people have many, many shortcomings, I must say that I find them to be the least religiously oriented party and the one that is the most open-minded to other religions and minorities.

I suppose the Mohajirs know what it is like to be discriminated against and therefore empathize with other minority groups, even those of other religions.

I hope that Mohajirs, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Punjabis, and all religious minority groups can survive in a successful and peaceful Karachi. That day seems far off right now but perhaps they can show Karachi what we Pakistanis can accomplish when we stop doing awful things in the name of religion and treat each other like human beings.

Mir Agha | 11 years ago | Reply

A nice development, seeing past the majority-minority is the best approach for the "minorities" in Pakistan. Appealing to quotas or reserved treatment will bog them down with taking token gestures society instead of focusing on uplifting themselves. Same thing goes for muslims living as minorities in other countries. The focus needs to be turned on combating discrimination in the society be it due to gender, ethnicity, language, or beleifs. This goes for the "liberal intellectuals" as well who like to perch themselves onto an undeserved platform.

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