Writing for minorities isn’t easy

Published: March 4, 2013

I used to cover crime stories and now I have begun reporting court proceedings. PHOTO: REUTERS

Journalism as a whole needs courage, and more often than not, a journalist has to face pressure from the field for rendering his professional duties. But sometimes, a reporter comes across a situation which he never expects to be in.

You may think attack, threatening phone calls or encountering indecent attitude from people are unusual but, in fact, they are routine for a journalist in this country. However, I want to share an unusual experience, which had an everlasting effect on me.

It was October 2012, when my family and I went to my would-be in-laws with a proposal of marriage. Everything went smoothly. Their family approved of me and my family approved of the girl.  We had a pleasant lunch and both families sat in the drawing room to discuss general matters.

All of a sudden, my brother-in-law to be, who was about 10 years older than me, started chit-chatting with me. I figured he wanted to ‘interview’ me, as is customary in our society.

After about two minutes of conversing, he came to the real question and started asking me about my profession and my assignments in office. I told him that I had previously been covering crime stories and now had begun reporting court proceedings. Besides this, I told him I also covered activities of religious parties.

I think my brother-in-law to be had serious reservations with my line of work, especially since I write a lot about minorities and their rights and the treatment meted out to them in our country.

This somehow made him question my religiosity and my faith as a Muslim.

I informed him that it was my duty to report on behalf of the rights of vulnerable minorities whenever and wherever they are meted out unconstitutional or illegal treatment at the hands of extremists in our society, regardless of who they are.

He may or may not have been satisfied with my response, but he became my brother-in-law on November 12 of last year. Since then, we have not discussed my work.

While facing criticism in one’s line of work is part and parcel of a reporter’s life, I never expected such disdain to emerge on a personal level.

Thus, when they say that reporting on minorities is difficult, it stands true in every possible sense.

Rana Tanveer

Rana Tanveer

A Lahore-based reporter at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Super Star

    People outside Pakistan how minorities including Muslim sects can become subject to such barbarism and violence in their country. But the answer lies in the deep extremism and hatred percolating down to ordinary people in Pak where not everyone would actually do something but silently and overtly approve, condone and support the hate mongersRecommend

  • http://na sandy

    prejudice begins at home – the drawing room airing of views is not as harmless as we think. So if you need to cultivate a kinder attitude to people who are not like you – it begins at home – it is a difficult ask but amazingly cathartic when you stop airing stupid negativity about other communities – I have tried it and loved the looks of ‘so you have become a muslim sympathiser’ from my relatives.Recommend

  • http://burjor@arcopassociates.com Burjor

    Religiosity and faith are two different things. Religiosity is fake, superficial, exhibition, show, i.e what one wants other to see, acting. Faith is substance.

    Jinnah’s message to Pakistan, which we all “follow”, Unity, Faith and Discipline. Explains his thinking.

    Keep writing, don’t flinch under pressure, from your brother-in-law or your brother-outlaw. What we see in Pakistan is Religiosity, hypocrisy, dogmatism, extremism, everything that the founder of Pakistan was against. That is why we cannot live in peace within ourselves and with our neighboring countries. We as a nation are extremely badly brainwashed. We do not know, what is good, what is bad, our values as a nation are misplaced, misdirected, totally disorientated, we do not know where we want to go, whether we want to go to heaven or become a self reliant nation. We have decide whether Pakistan is the last stop before heaven or hell or is it actually a country. Should the Mullah’s decide or should normal people decide.?Recommend

  • Syed

    God bless you Rana Tanveer. I wish there were more people like you in Pakistan but unfortunately its the exact opposite. Recommend

  • C M Naim

    Congratulations on your marriage. May God bless you and your wife with a long happy life together.
    And thank you for all the work you have been doing so courageously. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Don’t be too harsh in judging your brother-in-law because he is one of many who have been over the years indirectly and directly taught this in the schools and what comes out of the loud speakers from the pulpit in many cases if even worse.
    In Pakistan today the minority ( correct term should be non-Muslim Pakistanis ) really do not matter, now the Muslim is killing Muslim, all in the name of religion……………the enemies of Islam, and there are many ( Muslims as well ) have done their homework carefully. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    You’re brave for rightfully reporting what’s wrong, which a Muslim, or any good human being, is suppose to do instead of being ridiculously questioned for your faith for doing the right thing. I remember your earlier article, especially the reactionary defensive comments in them, some which outright attacked you.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/499578/indian-spy-killed-for-washing-clothes-in-lahore-jail-witness/

    It is difficult. There’s a lot of self-censorship that seems to be exercised on negative news and naming religious groups and ideological backgrounds, even by minorities themselves, due to the uncomfortable topic and sensitive nature of those like your brother-in-law, who are from the privileged majority background and influenced by biased superstitious ideological dogma and false ‘image’ or ‘honour’ than actual moral and ethical values of humanitarian justice, no matter how painful the truth.

    In this regards I really do appreciate the ET news site, both in articles and comment moderation.Recommend

  • Ibn-e-Maryam

    Imagine being in a minority religion or minority sect in this increasingly intolerant country of ours!!!Recommend

  • http://burjor@arcopassociates.com/**/ Burjor

    The problem is with the majority, not the minority. Consider what Pakistan has achieved in the past 65 years, now consider what other countries have achieved in the same period of time. We remain a hand to mouth country, depending on various aid agencies, various aid giving countries, various handouts, we make false pretense of ourselves, we make fools of ourselves to the outside world, we live in a make believe false world that only reinforces, others perception of Pakistan, of Pakistani people and of Muslims in particular. Get out of this mentality.Learn and appreciate that every human is equal, every human has equal rights.Recommend

  • http://burjor@arcopassociates.com Burjor

    Writing for majority is even more difficult. Because one might break more hearts and minds, if one writes the truth, which may not go down well, with the majority. Needless to mention many of my responses have not been published, for reasons as given above.Recommend

  • http://Rogers Oswald Saldanha

    Rana Tanveer, Thank you for picking up the gauntlet for the Minorities.

    May be for the illiterate Muslim population of our country, you should write about the contribution of Pakistan’s minorities.
    The Christians of Pakistan are very Patriotic. They have built schools, colleges, clinics and hospitals. The majority of student’s in a class room were muslims.
    The muslims benefitted with top grade education. The sad part is that, these educated muslims, NEVER come forward to defend the very Christians who taught them and their children.
    Christians, served in the Police Service and the Armed Forces of Pakistan with great distinction, honesty and integrity.

    The defender of Karachi Flt Lt Mervyn Middlecoat was flying F-86 aircraft. In the dogfight that followed, Mervyn shot down two enemy aircrafts, a feat for which he came to be known as the ‘Defender of Karachi’ 1965 war.

    In 1965 Flt Lt Cecil Chaudhry levelled Halwara.
    Please inform these illiterate muslims that it was Lt Gen Niazi who surrendered E Pak not a minority.
    The Christian Community of Pakistan, has served their BELOVED country with Great Distinction and honour. No one can deny this fact. No one.Recommend