A peaceful demonstration named ‘Stop Persecution of Religious Minorities in Pakistan’ took place at the Lahore Press Club in connection with Minority Day on August 11, to express citizens’ concern over the growing religious discrimination, hatred and violence and to declare that it was against the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. The demonstrators condemned the trend of hate, discrimination and violence threatening the lives, property, business, worship places, jobs and education of the Hindus, Ahmadis, Christians and even Muslims belonging to the Shia community. They pointed to the closure of Ahmadi places of worship and the demolition of their graves, the demolition of Gosha-e-Aman in Lahore, the attack on a church in Karachi, the abduction and forced conversion of Hindus and girls belonging to religious minorities and the constant killing of members of the Shia and Ahmadi communities.
On August 10, 2012, Interior Minister Rehman Malik came on TV and said Pakistani Hindus were leaving Pakistan to settle in India and that he would have none of it. After that, the police stopped nearly 250 Hindus from crossing over to India at the Lahore railway station and at the Wagah Border. This happened because of Mr Malik’s police background and a total lack of sympathy for what was happening to Hindus in the country. There was a wicked satisfaction drawn from keeping them back in the hell that Pakistan has become for them. There was a total lack of knowledge of Indian policy in the matter. The Hindus going to India were asked to furnish a clearance letter from Mr Malik’s ministry. This was the ultimate harassment for which the minister should be questioned by the Supreme Court through a suo-motu summon.
The media was told that Hindu pilgrims going for yatra of holy places in India were stopped in the wake of a rumour that they were migrating due to fears for their lives and property in Pakistan. The stranded Hindus in Lahore swore that they loved Pakistan — a total lie after the way they have been savaged for long years — and would return to their beloved land. Any humane person would go down on his knees and beg India to keep these luckless Hindus to prevent them from further persecution in Pakistan.
Mr Malik termed the ‘migration’ of Hindus from Jacobabad a conspiracy against Pakistan. What the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said was different. It anticipated that Pakistan was probably trying through ‘forced migration’ to get rid of Hindu communities in Sindh and Balochistan, where they are being targeted through kidnappings and forced marriages. Its statement said: ‘Religious minorities migrating from Sindh and Balochistan is a reflection of the state’s failure to save these citizens from violence, discrimination and disgusting excesses such as forced conversion of young women’.
Pakistan’s economy continues to be in the doldrums. The state of Pakistan is virtually without a writ on most of its territory but it insists that this has not happened because of the wrong policies followed by those who dominate governance in Islamabad. It accuses the world outside — which is potentially the only source of an economic bailout if ever it comes — of killing people in Pakistan. Foreign intelligence agencies are indiscriminately named without a shred of evidence while ‘friendly’ terrorists, who attack inside Afghanistan say they will impose sharia in Pakistan because democracy is against Islam. Politicians, blind to where the state is going, communicate with one another through defamations.
This Independence Day can only be celebrated with extreme sorrow and a sincere effort to highlight the flaws that Pakistan has succumbed to. It defies the world through self-righteous isolationism. It has recently taken a step back from its self-destructive doctrine of strategic depth after it became convinced that its current policy might push the world into declaring it a rogue state. Pakistan has a long way to go — not forwards but backwards — in retracing its steps to the way it was when it was created by the Quaid-e-Azam and his worthy companions.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2012.