Our Parsi community

Published: December 7, 2014
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The Eduljee Dinshaw charitable dispensary was built in 1882. PHOTO: TOOBA MASOOD/EXPRESS

The Eduljee Dinshaw charitable dispensary was built in 1882. PHOTO: TOOBA MASOOD/EXPRESS

When we measure the success of people or a community, we gauge it by the number of achievements or advancements they have made — usually economic, scientific or humanistic. One such community that exists within Pakistan has been under-appreciated, despite various achievements in the country for the betterment of our people. Our Zoroastrian community, though flourishing in several parts of the country in the past, has over time become marginalised and neglected. Nonetheless, it appears to be holding on for now, for its prior success has brought the community some stability and presence. No credit is attributed to the Pakistan government for this, which continues to weaken minority empowerment, seeking to squash minority presence in every sphere of life.

With regard to protecting and facilitating the Zoroastrian community, India is on the right track and has garnered global support through Unesco for the revival of the world’s smallest religious community. Contrastingly, Pakistan, with its population of more than 180 million people out of whom just a few thousand are Parsi, has done nothing to honour and protect the community. Even if we acquired more awareness about the community in politics and in society, there is no guarantee we would afford the community with the respect it deserves. For many Pakistanis, respect is reserved only for members of a particular faith and all others face persecution. The fact that members of the Parsi community operate in kindness and tolerance for others is entirely ignored.

Zoroastrians were once driven out of Iran before they settled in South Asia, and now we risk reducing their numbers once again, like we are doing with our Christian and Hindu populations. India trumps Pakistan when it comes to living in harmony with people from various cultures. Tolerance is something not found in abundance here but we must turn over a new leaf soon and respect our marginalised communities before we lose them.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • RajMajor
    Dec 7, 2014 - 6:07AM

    I’m worried about what will happen Muslim percentage increases in India. Once its forty percentage or above, its good bye civilization.

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  • csmann
    Dec 7, 2014 - 8:14AM

    This is the difference between the Indian democracy and its secularism ,and Pakistan’s theocratic fundamentalism and intolerance.

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  • ny
    Dec 7, 2014 - 10:18AM

    “India trumps Pakistan when it comes to living in harmony with people from various cultures.”
    A person like Shabana Azmi, with such high rank and stature, has confessed herself that she cant even buy a single property in Mumbai because she’s a Muslim. Maybe you’ve been reading too many brochures published by the Indian ministry of Tourism.
    No doubt, there’s a problem with minorities in our country (in the entire subcontinent as a matter of fact). I’d attribute most of their troubles to the radical segments of our society but nevertheless the govt is at fault too for not actively seeking the elimination of these radical elements
    However, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the future. With Nawaz Sharif’s demise and Imran Khan’s ascension on the horizon InshaAllah, I believe our minorities will be able to secure a prosperous future. Just 2 months ago, IK celebrated a “minorities day” and even had a day set aside for Diwali celebrations on which Rauf Klasra commented that it is ” the first time he has seen Hindus in Islamabad celebrate Diwali with such zeal and passion”. Long story short: the future’s bright.

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  • Toticalling
    Dec 7, 2014 - 12:15PM

    Agree with what you are saying about Parsi community, but this reference to India is not quite true. I read in The Economistz a few months ago that Parsi community is dwindeöling in India. In fact only older ones have stayed. It is reported that young ones have difficulty getting married to Parsis. Another strory tells us that there was a very large Chinese community living in Calcutta for centuries and from the old ones only a dozen or two are left.
    So this idea of Indian good, Pakistan bad is nt always right.

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  • Komal S
    Dec 7, 2014 - 8:37PM

    @ny:
    While i have to appreciate your positive comments on how Pakistan should treat minorities. Please do not compare the minority plight in your country vs India. It is all in numbers and facts:

    1) Please check your constitution vs Indian constitution on how it deals with minority rights
    2) Please check the rise of minority nos. in India vs dramatically reduced nos. in your country since independence.
    3) There is big difference between religious riots that happens in India periodically vs targeted killing of Shias, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus that happens in Pakistan. Even in the so called Gujarat Pogrom(as many pakistanis would like to call it) 750 muslims vs 250 Hindus were killed.
    4) Can you please tell us how many Shias killed Sunnis in Pakistan, how many Ahmadis, Christians & Hindus killed Muslims in Pakistan in religious violence.

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  • sam
    Dec 9, 2014 - 4:23AM

    The problem is with totalitarian islamic culture.

    India will face same problem if muslim in India continue to breed rapidly.

    I would to remind viewers that Abul kalam azad saying

    #
    India is a secular country not because of its constitution but because of majority hindus who believe in secularism

    #

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