On the occasion of Diwali

Now is the time to treat every citizen of the country as a Pakistani, regardless of caste, creed or religion.

Editorial November 13, 2012

For this one day of the year, politicians of all stripes and sizes will trip over themselves to wish the Hindu community a happy Diwali. Their statements will make it to the newspapers, they will feel happy about themselves and then they will go back to doing nothing about the plight of Hindus in the county. The Hindu population doesn’t need politicians to pay them lip service; it needs actual action to be taken to help them out. In Sindh, kidnappings of young Hindu girls, who are then forcibly converted to Islam and married off to influential locals, continue unabated. Even the Supreme Court took up a forcible conversion case but did not rule in favour of the Hindu family, whose daughter had been wrenched away from them. In Balochistan, meanwhile, prosperous Hindu traders are being kidnapped for ransom and the state has not even acknowledged the problem. Many Hindu families have been left with no option but to migrate to India — a country they don’t want to live in but one where they will at least be accepted.

Of course, it is not just the Hindu community that faces public discrimination and official apathy. Christians and other minorities live in constant fear of being attacked or hauled off to jail after being accused of blasphemy. Often, their ‘crime’ is nothing but a property dispute or a misunderstanding. But their religion ensures that only the Muslim point of view will be heard. Christians are given the most menial jobs in the country and end up living in poverty-stricken ghettos. And yet, come Christmas or Easter time, all our politicians will be posing in front of the camera reading out their rehearsed statements.

If the plight of minorities is indeed something the political class cares about, there is a lot that can be done. A simple reform of the blasphemy laws alone, making it much harder for cases to be registered without proof, would make minorities feel incalculably safer. Now is also the time to treat every citizen of the country as a Pakistani, regardless of caste, creed or religion. It is scandalous that non-Muslims cannot be elected as president. This is not the Pakistan that Jinnah fought for.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2012.


Sidh | 8 years ago | Reply

@zeeshan sheikh: and what is so bad about that. Some pagans did what they feel is correct and it did not harm anyone. Why do you have a problem with that?

Why dont you introspect on these lines: "Why do I have a problem when someone else does something that has nothing to do with me, and does not harm me in any way?"

Nasir M.Tahir | 8 years ago | Reply

First of all I appreciate the editor and salute his courage and professionalism that how beautifully he highlighted this very core and important issue. I fully agree with the editorial that the discrimination, persecution and official apathy to the Hindus or other minorities living in Pakistan has reached its limits, since Pakistan has came in to being. I feel the editor is still look bit optimistic about our leaders and politicians , mentioning that they will greet Diwali to Hindus or Christmas to Christians, but for his kind notice that this courage and curtsy in even not resist in a large number of our present leaders. I remember very well in 2009 when two very barbaric attacks were carried out on Ahmadiyya Community places at Lahore where around 80 Ahmadiyya community members were shot dead and scores were injured, but the reaction of the state was seldom, very few leaders of Pakistan even bother to condemn that or pay condolence or to showed any kind of sympathy to them. The one who dared to show some sympathy to them, late Governor of Punjab Mr. Suleiman Taseer, he was made silent forever. This is really not the Pakistan what for dreamed or struggled Mr. Jinnah. Pakistan doesn't have a pleasant impact internationally regarding human rights and it's more deterring by each passing day. The impression of Pakistan internationally is not more than like a hostile and hijacked society. The Ramsha case should be an eye opener for our legislators to know that how common and how badly the blasphemy law is being practiced in Pakistan. May Allah give courage to our nation and leaders to call spade a spade.

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