Treatment of minorities

Published: December 20, 2012
Email
It is too easy to say that the state needs to start protecting the rights of minorities when there is a distinct lack of leadership on the issue. DESIGN: SUNARA NIZAMI

It is too easy to say that the state needs to start protecting the rights of minorities when there is a distinct lack of leadership on the issue. DESIGN: SUNARA NIZAMI

A new report released by the National Commission of Justice and Peace provides yet more evidence that the constitutional rights guaranteed to minorities exist only on paper and rarely in practice. According to the report, at least nine different places of worship, including five churches, one temple and one Ahmadi place of worship, have been destroyed this year. Of the nine, eight were attacked by mobs while the Ahmadi place of worship was dismantled by the police. The double standard here is glaring. Authorities dare not take action against mosques that may have violated building codes and are patently unsafe or those built on encroached land. And, just a few days ago, the Punjab government backed down from a proposal to charge mosques the same rate for gas as others are charged. Meanwhile, minorities have to worry about their lives each time they enter their places of worship.

The problem is not just of legal indifference to the rights of minorities but active societal discrimination. A combination of factors makes it all but impossible for minorities to receive the same rights as those of the majority faith. Religious intolerance in society is often exploited by those who have more worldly aims. Often, opportunists are looking simply to take over lucrative land and hence whip up sentiment against minority groups to take over their property. The police, unwilling to get involved in ostensibly religious disputes, simply step aside and even refuse to register cases. Once religious fervour has been tapped, prosecutors and judges are too afraid to do their jobs properly. At every level of society, both civil and official, fear and bigotry end up ruling.

It is

Those few brave individuals, like Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, who dare to speak up against this injustice are promptly assassinated and, even in death, further marginalised by spineless politicians. It is too easy to say that the state needs to start protecting the rights of minorities when there is a distinct lack of leadership on the issue. If change is going to come it will be painfully slow because it requires society to change itself, to stop giving into its worst instincts and finally learn the value of humanity. It requires a revolution in education where bigotry is replaced by tolerance. We can only change society if we first change ourselves from within.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (9)

  • abu-uzhur
    Dec 20, 2012 - 2:36AM

    @Editor

    I share and appreciate the passion with which you have spoken for the rights of
    minorities . However , the day when bigotry is replaced by tolerance—– well , one hopes to see it soon . But the problem might be sorted out in another way . The takfiri culture
    is going apace so fast that Muslims might be turned into a minority themselves.

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Dec 20, 2012 - 6:04AM

    This editorial echos many of my prior comments and stance. It is not the mullas but others, who include a vast section of its educated and elite, leaders of political parties, judges and law enforcement agencies who are mainly responsible.

    Recommend

  • Dec 20, 2012 - 11:45AM

    Look its time to realise that Pakistan will not change. Too many things have happened to suggest this.

    What is a realistic approach is to allow all Hindus to migrate to India. Its an unfinished business of Partition and no one should really have a problem with it. That means a million or 2 less people to worry about.

    Now, its only the middle class Hindus who get to migrate, the poor are too poor to do so. Here, the Pakistanis state can help. The visa regime will allow them to get visas to India easily too.

    Recommend

  • abu-uzhur
    Dec 20, 2012 - 8:34PM

    @BruteForce:

    Unfinished business of Partition ? Yes , we should exchange 2 million Pakistani
    Hindus with 160 million Muslims of Bharat .

    Recommend

  • majority
    Dec 20, 2012 - 9:12PM

    is majority safe in Pakistan?

    Recommend

  • majority
    Dec 20, 2012 - 9:14PM

    @BruteForce: Is India safe for Muslims? I think Pakistan is far better for Hindus than India is for Muslims!!!!

    Recommend

  • Dec 20, 2012 - 11:52PM

    @abu-uzhur:

    Sure. If anyone is willing to come from the Indian side..

    @majority:

    Considering 2000 people have died in just Karachi this year and the dozens of Shias who were bombed during Moharram, yes, they are much safer in India. Show me a single Shia who died in India during Moharram. I dare you..

    Plus, Hindus would readily migrate to India if given a chance and the means. How many Muslims are queued outside of Pakistani embassy for the visas? Have you heard of even one?Recommend

  • abu-uzhur
    Dec 21, 2012 - 5:17PM

    @majority:

    Very pertinent question raised by you : ” Is majority safe in Pakistan “? No more ,
    unfortunately .The plague of intolerance starts with oppression of minorities because it entails no reaction or punishment .But then the plague engulfs the entire society without discrimination of minority-majority . This is what has happened in Pakistan .

    Recommend

  • Foolitics
    Dec 21, 2012 - 7:54PM

    @abu-uzhur:
    “Unfinished business of Partition ? Yes , we should exchange 2 million Pakistani
    Hindus with 160 million Muslims of Bharat .”

    The problem is the Muslims of India will never migrate to Pakistan and India cannot force them to. That’s not the case with Hindus in Pakistan and will gladly migrate to India. We have to consider reality when talking about these things.

    Recommend

More in Editorial