Pakistan, a place where non-Muslims also live

Published: July 14, 2011

You can only know that non-Muslims also exist in Pakistan if you come into direct contact with one, not otherwise. PHOTO: AFP

A lot has been written about the plight of minorities in Pakistan – some by minorities themselves but mostly by the majority.

In most such reports, analyses and blogs, the focus has been on the aggressive tactics used by a violent and regressive few to intimidate and persecute the middle to lower-middle class of Christians and Hindus. I speak not of Ahmadis, as the persecution they face is a more severe one resulting in death and legislation-led despair. Theirs is a plight I pray for daily.

In this piece, however, I want to focus on another aspect of the issue that minorities face in this self-proclaimed yet ill-implemented citadel of Islam: intellectual discrimination.

The episode I am about to relate to you has happened to me four times already since March, and countless times in my travels around the world.

Yesterday, I got into a taxi in Dubai to take me home from the office where I work. The driver was a lovely chap from Karachi, who would have been no more than 40 years of age. While engaging in small talk, as is usual with taxi-travels, I asked him his name to which he replied “Akmal.” After the cliched ‘dropped catches’ jokes ended, he asked me what my name was, which I gladly gave him. His next question didn’t catch me off-guard, as I was used to it by now:

“Which part of India are you from? Goa?”

I replied by telling him I was from Pakistan, which he could not believe. He gave me an incredulous stare, and said:

Nahi nahi, Pakistan se? Acha phir kahan Pakistan mai?” (No, really? Where from Pakistan?)

I replied by saying “Karachi,” to which he asked in a very obvious sarcastic tone of disbelief:

Karachi mai kis jaga?” (Where in Karachi?)

Once I convinced him I was from Pakistan, I asked him why he was so surprised. His reply shocked me only because he was a Karachiite, where countless Christians have lived for centuries:

Aap ke naam se tau lag hi nahi raha tha.” (Couldn’t tell at all by your name)

One can argue that this episode is based on one man’s testimony, but then I would point out to the countless other nationals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (the world’s melting pot, if I may) who have never once gathered that I may be from Pakistan. From Indians to Australians, Englishmen to Americans and even Germans, the moment they heard my name, it was understood that I must be Indian or at the least Sri Lankan. Upon informing them of my nationality – especially considering I puff my chest out in pride when I say it – they respond with the usual surprised comment:

“There are Christians in Pakistan?”

Pakistani taxi drivers in Canada, the UK and Australia have all asked me the same thing.

And this is what I mean by intellectual discrimination.

Why does the world have a picture of Pakistan as a strictly Muslim state devoid of anyone other than Muslims?

Why is it that our own people abroad – who definitely must have had non-Muslims somewhere in their vicinity while growing up – seem so oblivious to any other in their theocracy?

The answer is quite simple really. From the constitution to the halls of education, from the science sector to the cricket fields, religion (read: Islam) is not just a part of your identity, it is your only identity. In Ramazan, non-Muslims are not allowed to even smell food in front of their fellow Pakistanis who are fasting, and no Pakistani will ever in his lifetime see a non-Muslim head of state or head of the armed forces.

Our entire societal structure is based on the illusion that everything which surrounds you is Muslim by creation, by nature and by ideology.

Simply ask the people who renamed Elphinston Street to Zaibunissa Street, or who prefer to call Dayaram Jethmal College as DJ Sindh College. Even our history is repainted with the ‘true’ ideology. Our Urdu text books begin with a Hamd and have the Na’ats somewhere in the middle, making it compulsory to study in primary schools; never mind the Christians and Hindus who must study the same text book as it is part of their orovincial syllabus for that subject. In the boards of secondary education, a non-Muslim can only study Pakistan Studies or ‘Ethics’, not his own religion. Yet, Islamiat is mandatory for every single Pakistani Muslim in a non-Muslim school. Again, zero exposure to anything other than Islam.

Society as a whole has been moulded into a facade where unless you’ve lived next to, or known a non-Muslim, they don’t exist here. This is why everything ground to a halt with Shaheed Salmaan Taseer and Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti’s assasinations. People couldn’t believe that this could happen, but it did.

When Afia Siddiqui was arrested, the entire ghairat-brigade of Pakistan went up in arms and called America the great Satan. Yet when Asia Bibi was arrested, Pakistan was seen as the upholder of faith by our honourable masses. No protests, no rallies, no justice-call for the oppressed. In fact, suddenly we were seeing blogs posts and Twitter streams going crazy with supporters of Qadri. Apparently, non-Muslims are out to get Islam, and are not patriotic Pakistanis if they support Asia Bibi or if they pray for the soul of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer. Come to think of it, this last accusation has been levelled against quite a few Muslims too!

I hear many supporters of minority rights in Pakistan call for a revamp of the constitution, a revamp of educational systems and a proper judicial look at our rights and their implementation, but I feel this is all for nought until and unless a typical non-Muslim Pakistani is first accepted as a Pakistani even if his name is not Ahmad or Ali.

Anthony Permal

Anthony Permal

A Catholic theologian who works as a digital marketer in Dubai.

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

  • Syed Qalb-e-Abbas

    excellent wrtie up ! though i cannot imagine how the system is going to be revamped sadly… by giving rights to minorties, we, the muslims dont give up our faith.. its infact part of our faith…and it is time that we strengthen ourselves as Pakistanis… serving as a flag bearer for the whole muslim ummah comes later … Recommend

  • http://guldaan.wordpress.com/ Hamza Balouch

    Its Not right to related Aafia With asia. People of Pakistan came to know about Afia even after many years than she disappeared.

    About the rights for Minority, i dont think why we only stuck on “few” things. I am working in private Company, here on Christian Special days, Christians get holidays and we work… Comparing this to you Ramzan Example.

    Mr Bhatti was killed by TTP, TTP killed alot of Muslims. Its always strange for me when a terrorist kill a Non muslim (Chrisitan/ahemdi/Sikh) it is wrongly taken as comapred to attacks on Muslims.Recommend

  • sophia ahmed

    Some very valid points; some clearly eye openers for me. You are right in thinking that we will never as a nation tolerate a non muslim to lead us. That is our biggest failure; our ideology has failed us. Well done!Recommend

  • A mom from small Indian town

    I can imagine pakistan after 50 years. With the collective oppression and suppression, your future generations (minorities) will opt out for islam religion. At least they will have the “acceptance” feeling.Recommend

  • Hammad

    Finally someone has spoken out about this blindness and the height of Hipocracy and double standards …it’s sad …sad not only due to the nature of the state of affairs but also because of the collective ignorance of the entire society and system…I’ve grown up in New York with people of all religions and races as my friends since childhood…all I can say is that the broader your outlook, interactions and acceptances are the wider the net you cast to capture universal wisdom. A stimulating article …sympathy …sympathy with proper and intelligent action is what Pakistan Needs more of towards this affair…but this is a great first step in raising awareness …thanks Mr. Anthony

    Hammad, NYRecommend

  • Jahanzeb Hashmi

    I love and agree this part:

    “Our entire societal structure is based on the illusion that everything which surrounds you is Muslim by creation, by nature and by ideology.”

    Really sensitive issue in our society which needs to be strictly addressedRecommend

  • from india

    once upon a time all were hindus, only to get converted to islam by force or christianity by monetary allurement or discrimination from some upper class hindus !! Recommend

  • Lobster

    @A mom from small Indian town:
    You are really from smal indian town with equally small knowledge. If your survey is based on Karachi’s cab drivers only, you may be right but its still surprising. Because a large number of Hindus are resident in Karachi, several schools have christian names and Christians at key positions. Although several aspects of minority rights need to be addressed, but this article seems not to address them.

    @Author

    non-Muslims are not allowed to even smell food in front of their fellow Pakistanis who are fasting

    Absolute rubbish. Hindus in my company in Karachi owned by Muslim openly eat lunch. This is also the case within schools where Christians are not forced.

    Simply ask the people who renamed Elphinston Street to Zaibunissa Street

    Let me quote few more examples. NED University, St. Paul College, Dehli College, Guru Mandar, Parssi Colony. Do they sound Muslim name?Recommend

  • Waleed Khan

    Great Article ,Anthony :)Recommend

  • Fawwad – Lahore

    Great Article. There are about 7 million non Muslims (Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs and Bahai etc.) in Pakistan. And I am glad we have this religious diversity! Recommend

  • Waseem

    @Hamza Balouch:
    It is right to relate Afia to Asia bibi.. Althogh i am not christian but Pakistan people think that anything that happens to them is against Islam, yet they don’t have aiota of islam in them. Hazoor pbuh never punished anyone for balspmey, if someone tells you that he did is a liar and is giving islam bad name. No where in Quran it is allowed to kill someone who commits blashmpey yet you belive it does when jamat e islam ameer comes and lies on TV who is also distorting Quran. He should be charged for blashmpey for Quran for what he qutoed because he skipped the verses in between.
    Point being we have to be tolerant enough to accept everyone.. Qadri is a murdere yet people throw flowers at him, Salman Tasser who was a good man and was Governor of Pakistan was killed, Islam does not allow you to kill anyone, Islam does not allow you to rebel against your leaders.. I don’t know what Islam you are studying but the Islam of Quran and Islam or Prophet Muhammad pbuh is very peaceful.

    Great article Anthony, i hope we can also start teaching the other people who do not read newspaper like this one. yet we still need to work a lot on the ones who do actually read this paper so thanks for helping your pakistani brothers and sisters by spreading tolerance.Recommend

  • M.Khan

    An excellent article and reflecting the attitudes and mindset of many.

    For many Pakistanis it is only when they get out of the country that they realise how narrow minded their view of life really is.It comes largely from a feeling of inferiority or insecurity.You wil not find the same feeling in Arabs (except Saudis) for instance who donot for one moment see other faiths as a threat For instance their is a huge Christian population in Damascus and many Arabs enjoy visiting Damascus to enjoy the Christmas festivities.In Kuwait I couldn’t park near the one of the biggest hotels in the centre of town because of the Easter services going on in the Christian cathedral.Palestinians also have no issue with living side by side with Christians.When the late Yasser Arafat married a Christian, no Arab was too bothered but it certanly bothered all my fellow Pakistanis!!

    It is worth reflecting that in Europe Muslims have built mosques by the thousands and practice their faith daily,and it does not cause any disruption.Lately since 9/11 their has been some change in attitudes by europeans, but it is minor compared to the horrors we face in Pakistan.My friend said to me in Lahore that every time he leaves for Juma he says goodbye to his wife and kids in case he never comes back for fear of terrorist attack.We must all speak out as Anthony has done, he is a brave Pakistani and a patriot and should be accepted as one!!Recommend

  • fus

    I am from Karachi, and I feel honored that in my life I got opportunity to work and study with almost all sects of Muslims, Sikh, Hindus, Chinese, Christians, Ahmedies, almost all ethnicities of Pakistan. And only thing common was that they were all Pakistanis. We all had same issues, same good times, shared food, jokes and best of times. This is one thing that that makes Karachi stand out and truly a mini-Pakistan. But it is unfortunate that gradually Karachi is also changing, many of these people have migrated , but I guess this is the over all trend, since everyone wants to get out. But whether people like it or not, we are all Pakistani first. It does not change your faith, you can be anyone but you will always be identified as a Pakistani. Issues that are closer to home should come first, as long as it related to Pakistan or ANY Pakistani, before issue of Indian Kashmir, Palestine or Afghanistan. Btw I am a practicing Muslim, and hate the fact that my religion has been hijacked by people who wants to become God. Let Allah (swt) be the judge of our deeds and faith.Recommend

  • Ryner

    Good writeup Anthony I agree and thats exactly why I include such stories in my stand up acts.

    Let me just point out one more thing that I do agree with Lobster, yes to a great extent minorities are given privileges a story which is always over shadowed by news relating to terrorism and discrimination.

    Just want to add that its only because of education that people misunderstand and act, if only a little bit of intellect is imparted we all would be fine. Recommend

  • Disco Molvi (Proud Paulian)

    @Lobster: You’ve given an incorrect example. It’s not ‘St. Paul College’, it’s ‘St. Paul’s English High School’, a place I spent 11 years of my life and where I still yearn to go back.

    @Author: Agree with you. Let me recount my earliest memory of religious bigotry which I encountered during my school years when I heard a class-fellow of mine tell me that,
    Tum ko pata nai k Christians ka pani pina haram hai (Don’t you know it’s Haram to drink water from Christians) when he saw me drinking from the school water bottle of a Christian friend of mine. Even at that age I found his statement to be hate filled because for me Friendship came first before anything else, even ‘religion’.
    Had I been as matured then as I’m now, I would’ve replied if he finds Christians so bad, why is he studying in a Catholic Institute in the first place, instead of enrolling at a Muslim madrassah?Recommend

  • Wahas Ahmed

    Well Done Anthony. A great Read. P.S The Author is an old Friend Of Mine. It was pleasant to see your Article here just out of No where. God Bless YouRecommend

  • Tanoli.

    please dont be too high there is some discrimination hapend to minorities every where in
    the world i am from karachi and i know there are christian and hindus lived and there are
    english street names also exist according to writer say people dont know we live its a
    bull there are so many villages in punjab and by the way look at your face u do look like
    sri lankan or south indian this is not unusal and peoples who lived in north america have also
    no other choice but to send there children to public school they r free up to secondery higher school and there are so many things they read which islam prohibite but what
    they will say start protesting like u doing no way go with flaw man some time.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    As the general rule minorities shouldn’t be discriminated particularly religious minorities. Now Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Ahmadis, Aga Khani’s etc are doing a great job in Pakistan’s progress no doubt. They make about less than 10% but their contribution is much much more than that. All we need is awareness and an attitude shift towards them. Muslims are instructed by Allah SWT and Prophet Mohammad PBUH to live cordially with Non Muslims. That instruction is to be followed by true muslim all times.Recommend

  • Tanoli.

    To the writer please check it out how minorities lives in india and in israel and how much
    discriminitaion they face in every day life.Recommend

  • antony

    I am happy by sheer luck my birth place is in south india and i tell you for a proper understanding and acceptance of hindus ,muslims and christians etc you have to live here and see . All extremes of all religions are tolerated and moderates are many and appreciate other religious beliefs.Recommend

  • M.Khan

    @Tanoli

    It is obvious that you have not lived anywhere other than Pakistan otherwise you would not make such statements as “go with the flow”!!!
    Having lived all over the world it is obvious to both me and other Pakistanis who hav seen the world that the world is moving ahead and we are falling behind.And it is NOT the fault of Israel or India, but ours.We are permanently in a state of denial.
    As for making comments about a persons looks that is just ridiculous and childish.As a Pakhtoon I never make comments about someones fair/dark skin, because once I descend to that level, how can I object if the next person mocks the intelligence of Pakhtoon’s and decides to tell a Pakhtoon joke.As a Tanoli you should know better!!Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Thank you all for your comments.

    All I can say to Tanoli for his comments is that I will never understand why people in Pakistan – when shown the error of their ways – prefer to start comparing discrimination in other countries as if that makes things better.

    Secondly, here is a textbook example of discrimination RIGHT here by Tanoli. Apparently, my skin colour depicts that I’m from India. I grew up in Karachi, where I saw hundreds of thousands of dark skinned people. I guess you’re not Pakistani unless you’re fair, right Tanoli? Recommend

  • Arif Ali Khan

    I am Pakistani and I embrace you as a fellow Pakistani. I feel for you and also feel for the Muslims who are so blinded that they neither appreciate the diversity around them nor gain from mixing in different cultures. For example I find that while Islam encourages generosity and hard work as does Chistianity. However it is Christians who practice this more in their day to day lives.

    My friend we have a long way to go and a lot to learn. Kaafi jehalat hai har taraf hamarey mulk mein. Nonetheless there are many amongst us who both respect you and love you as our own and no less.Recommend

  • Abbas from the US

    It is sad when I hear minorities who are Pakistanis express their frusteration with the current Pakistani sense of identity, which anyone can see is a purely Sunni Muslim sense of identity. Having evolved into an atheist from the origins of a Sunni Muslim I feel liberated. Religion is an addiction and Muslims wear their religion on their sleeve.
    When I was growing up in Karachi Pakistan in the fifities and sixties, I was fortunate to have Hindu, Christian and Parsi friends, and it never mattered. Jinnah would indeed be very discomforted if he was alive today and saw the result that is Pakistan today.Recommend

  • Hammad

    @ Mr. Tanoli …and this is the other sad side of pakistan …that whenever someone points out what’s wrong with it …the answer is almost always to point at what’s wrong elsewhere ….so basically according to you if there’s discrimination elsewhere in the world it makes it ok to have it in Pakistan???? smh

    Hammad.Recommend

  • Abbas from the US

    @antony:

    Kerala is a great example of Hindus, Muslims and Christians, Jews as well as atheistic communists living in harmony.
    Antony I don’t know where in South India you are from nevertheless you are extremely fortunate to have been born in harmonious surroundings.Recommend

  • diversity

    I am 25 years old, and even I can see how much Karachi, and Pakistan have changed. Agreed, minorities anywhere may be discriminated against, but everywhere else they at least have a voice. Of late the message has been that if you are not with the majority, you will be killed. The worst part is that this is not limited to non-Muslim religious minorities- in Pakistan, we are all divided. We identify ourselves first as Punjabis or Balochis, as Sunnis or Shias, as Urdu-speaking or not, men come before women, the rich before the many more millions who are desperately poor. From classrooms to the media, to what is becoming increasingly more common on our streets, we are becoming more narrow-minded, more selfish. The opinions we hold are rigid and nobody else should dare to offer a different view. And the people meant to protect everyone’s interests- the security and armed forces, the government, even the media- fan the flames because it serves their own interests. “No person is a believer unless he wants for others what he wants for himself”- how Islamic is it to kill another human being? Pakistan Studies textbooks quote the Quaid’-e-Azam’s speech “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” The Muslims of India wanted a state where they would be free to practise their religion, but in Pakistan they prevent even Muslims of different sects from free prayer and religious worship. When will we learn that we are all Pakistanis first?Recommend

  • Tanoli.

    @ mr antony & mr m.khan as a pakhtoon my self i am really sorry i went little too far.
    i dont wanna hurt your feeling please accept my apology from my heart.Recommend

  • Raj

    @Tanoli : If some wrong is happening in India and Israel, it does not justify the point that the same needs to be followed in Pakistan.

    Now coming to the actual point – Say there are mass discrimination of Muslims in India and Israel. Would not it be natural then that a significant number of Muslims will leave these countries to places which are better. But that’s not happening , instead Muslims are getting more and more integrated into the respective societies of these two countries with equal opportunities of education and jobs. Can the same be said about the minorities of Pakistan.Recommend

  • AK

    Growing up in India, I can relate to this feeling. Children are taught by parents not to share their meals with someone from a lower caste, or a non-Hindu, non-Brahmin etc. There are lots of minorities in India, but many of them live in ghettos. Sure, the Parsis do well in India, but I believe they are doing well in Pakistan too. The Sikhs fought for independence from India until recently, and most of them, especially living abroad, will never forget what happened in 1984. Indian muslims are behind the curve in every respect, and there is discrimination on basic things like housing. And Indian christians have suffered many attacks and murder from right-wing groups. The subcontinent is a very complex place with a lot of history, bloodshed and layers. If it is any consolation, these problems are not confined to Pakistan, or Bangladesh, or India or Sri Lanka. It is a universal post-colonial problem. It is important that we take a strong stand for justice for all.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Tanoli.:

    It’s ok, buddy. :) From one Pakistani to another :)Recommend

  • M.Khan

    @Tanoli

    You are man enough to have the courage to accept you have made a mistake that reflects well upon you “mashallah”. In the heat of the moment we get carried away, but if through debate we can change someones opinion that is a good thing, and to be laudedRecommend

  • Tanoli.

    @antony you know how we are pakistani when living abroad for so long and dont wanna
    hear any thing about home land no matter how bad its look like. peace on you bro.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Thats more like it… Tanoli and Anthony.. Much appreciated . Respect!Recommend

  • Tanoli.

    @ M khan thanks mr khan and peace on you.Recommend

  • http://zebijalebi.blogspot.com/ Zubair

    Brilliant article .It is high time we treat minorities rightly and they should enjoy the same perks as muslims do. Though the only thing I disagree is that among minorities,ahamdis enjoy the perks or whatever more so(They suffer as well,I know) but a common Hindu and Christian suffers more than them. We have to get rid of this attitude of muslims always being “Holier-than-thou” and this attitude is fueled a lot more by deplorable education we have at helm where hate for people of other religions is prevalent. Pakistan is for everyone and Pakistanis especially muslims must accept brethren from other faiths no matter what.Recommend

  • Adnan

    Dear Anthony,

    Nice writing on a very important topic. In my opinion, the problem arises from Pakistani establishment’s resistance of the concept of diversity in our people. We have been taught through our texbook and media that we are a muslim nation instead of the fact that we are a Pakistani nation. We do have diverse ethnicities, sects and religions and this diversity should be applauded rather than be discouraged. In my opinion, a nation or a country is like a bouquet of different flowers having different colours and fragrances. Personally whenever I come across a Pakistani who has a different religious background than myself, I always feel happy that we have them with us in Pakistan and it gives me more strength as a proud citizen of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Arif Ali Khan

    @Tanoli.: If there is a weakness in us, it is best to first acknowledge it, apologize for it if it is true, then to try to try to correct it in whatever way you can. Weather it is through a gesture at a personal level or one as a collective. By simply talking about what is wrong elsewhere you achieve nothing at all. Furthermore it is dishonest to not address what is being discussed. You neither help to bring harmony nor show respect.

    I have several Christian friends since childhood and can easily imagine all that they go through in our present environment in Pakistan. Please spare everyone the comparisons with Israel and India or other countries. Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Beautifully written! This is what is expected of from a country founded on the narrow ideology of exclusivity (Muslims are a different nation). Once the minorities are destroyed the proponents are going to turn on themselves (Shia vs. Sunni, Deobandi vs. Barelvi vs. Wahabi etc.,). Best of luck!Recommend

  • Hamna

    In the boards of secondary education, a non-Muslim can only study Pakistan Studies or ‘Ethics’, not his own religion.
    Completely wrong. The choice is between Islamiat and ethics for Non Muslims. If they want to study Islamiat then no objection otherwise they can study ethics.

    Yet, Islamiat is mandatory for every single Pakistani Muslim in a non-Muslim school. Again, zero exposure to anything other than Islam.
    I don’t think that Muslims will mind studying Islamiat however i support your view of comparative religions study. Other religions should be taught as well.

    From the constitution to the halls of education, from the science sector to the cricket fields, religion (read: Islam) is not just a part of your identity, it is your only identity.
    Completely agree and this is indeed sad.

    In Ramazan, non-Muslims are not allowed to even smell food in front of their fellow Pakistanis who are fasting, and no Pakistani will ever in his lifetime see a non-Muslim head of state or head of the armed forces.
    Not true. Don’t stereotype your countrymen. It must be your own bad experience. As for Non Muslim head of state unfortunately our constitution doesn’t allow this which i absolutely agree should be changed. Non Muslims are no less patriotic.

    As a Pakistani Muslim, i completely sympathize with you and will still give value to your views inspite of the fact that some are inaccurate. Your voice matters. We are with you. More power to your pen.Recommend

  • Tanoli.

    @ arif ali khan the reason for my apology was i hurt his feeling changing whole society
    in mass is need big revolution and great leader ship and that we dont have right now.Recommend

  • Fooz

    dude u soo look sri lankan lolRecommend

  • Spud

    @Lobster: The situation is different that what is portrayed here by the author. At the time of independence i.e. in 1947 over 15% of the Pakistan’s population were Hindus to day there are less that 2%. Such large emigration does not occur if minorities are treated well by the mainstream populace. In India the number of Muslim, christians, Sikhs etc. keeps on rising and members of these religions live a good life commensurate with their educational abilities. Take the case of Ahmadis whose religious beliefs are not recognised by law. The founder of Pakistan was a secular man his dream has been shattered. . Recommend

  • Sengathir Selvan

    Antony,

    Good article…is the article discussed in IRP?Recommend

  • Realist.

    Simply ask the people who renamed Elphinston Street to Zaibunissa Street, or who prefer to call Dayaram Jethmal College as DJ Sindh College.

    -

    on whose name is abbotabad ?
    on whose name is Haripur ?//

    In Ramazan, non-Muslims are not allowed to even smell food in front of their fellow Pakistanis who are fasting,

    keep lying coz people living outside Pakistan will buy that nonsense of yours!Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Awesome article loved it! Recommend

  • jai

    You seem to forget that to officially recognize you as equal citizens would be the equivalent of Islam accepting the legitimacy of other religious beliefs. Hence you are merely tolerated until the time you accept Islam. This is the sad truth, however unfortunate it may be.Recommend

  • H.Ansari

    In current times, the examples of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Rana Bhagwandas (Highest possible rank in the judicial system) and the General Noel Israel Khokhar (Current Commander of 23rd Division) are enough to refute the argument. In popular culture too, how can cricket lovers forget Danish Kaneria or Yosuf Youhana; or fashion lovers forget Deepak Perwani and Jia Ali; or music lovers forget the Benjamin Sisters or Mekaal Hasan Bandi? All of these great Pakistanis have risen to lofty positions and are a source of pride for not just the Christian and Hindu communities, but for all Pakistanis

    In the area where it matters the most, defending the homeland, Pakistani Christians have risen to the highest levels of gallantry. A perusal of history shows that this community has been awarded with the highest possible ranks (Air Marshal Turowicz and Air Vice Marshall Eric Hall for example) and awards (remember Captain Cecil Chaudhary from TV shows on defence day? he destoryed Amrtsar radar station and was awarded Sitara-e-Jurat).

    Therefore, the aforementioned current and historical evidence prove Anthony wrong. Christians have commanded Pakistan’s Air Force and a Hindu has been the Head of the Judiciary. Therefore, even though we are far from being the state Jinnah envisioned where ones religious beliefs had ‘nothing to do with the business of state’ and even though a large portion of the population is bigoted, I would like to think that our system is one where your ‘Pakistaniyat’ matters more than your ‘Deeniyat’.Recommend

  • jssidhoo

    Avval Allah Noor Upaya Qudrat Keh Sub Banday (God Created Light Of Which All The Beings Were Born)
    Aik Noor Keh Sub Jag Upajiya Kaun Bhale Ko Mandhe (From The Light, everything in the Universe was created. So Who Is Good And Who Is Bad
    Even if you believe that God created Adam and Eve we are all still his creation so Kaun Bhale Ko Mandhe still applies Recommend

  • Humanoid

    Anthony, its sad, and your assertions are true! Minority rights in Pakistan were borken as were the rights of Majority. Majority always copes while minority bears the brunt. Good article! promote Pakistan, may be one day we will see that Hindus and Christians and other faiths live side by side with Muslims.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Quite true but unfortunate.Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman Gilani

    @Abbas from the US:

    Enjoy this life , the shackles of religion might now have been taken off you, but one day, you will regret it. I am Alhamdolillah most relieved to have religion in my life.Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman Gilani

    Pakistan is an Islamic country, make no doubt about that. Fact is, that if we give minority’s their rights at the expense of the majority. This is an open sign of madness, I refuse to accept it.

    So whats wrong with na’aats and hamds?
    Whats wrong with Islamic education?

    Fact is that yes, minorities should have a course of their own religion. But at the expense of removing the Islamic ideal from the state?! I don’t think so.

    I am always a Muslim, first,second and last, my identity as a Pakistani is only a platform on which I can reach out to the world.Recommend

  • Ashok

    Anthony,

    I have a question – where does your last name come from? Is it a variant of ‘Perumal’ – which is a Tamil word for Lord Vishnu? Are your ancestors from Tamil Nad? Just curious.

    Regards,
    AshokRecommend

  • Awais Khan

    It is not only the minorities in Pakistan, but every citizen is suffering at the hands of extremism. A few, for their vested interest are deciding the interpretations on religious teachings and misguiding others also.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Realist.:

    Lol at ‘lies’. If that’s the case, my friend, please explain the concept of ‘Elphinson Street vs. Zaibunissa Street’ for us. Citing one or two examples where the change has not happened justifies where it has?

    Secondly, regarding fasting. Are you telling me that a Christian can open his lunch and have it at his desk in front of Muslims during Ramazan? Or that I can buy a burger from KFC and walk down the street munching on it?

    The only lies here are the ones you’ve been fed and keep feeding yourself.Recommend

  • http://guldaan.wordpress.com/ Hamza Balouch

    @Waseem

    Dear, ISLAM is QURAN+ HADIS and Sunnah also.

    Anyhow, i dont think your post is justification of “comparison” its just a pro-Asia comment.

    @Anthony Permal

    Its also Show discrimination, Among so much comments you took a specific person comment:)Recommend

  • Raj

    How will you react if I put you in Iran for a decade where you will be a minority Sunni amidst the majority Shia population.Recommend

  • Asif

    @ Abdul Rehman Gilani

    Ridiculous argument. Nobody is asking you to subjugate the majority in favour of the minority. We’re asking, on humanitarian grounds, for a state where Sikhs, Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus and Parsis don’t have to suffer ONLY so that you can glorify your self-proclaimed divine Muslimness. ‘Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.’ NOT ‘Unto you whatever remaining capacity my religion allows, and unto me my religion.’

    And do tell, did the Ummah actually start out as the ‘majority’? Does a Muslim need his deeds or his constitution to act proud? Only tyrants rely on the might of numbers.
    I’d love to see you say ‘Whats wrong with a Hail Mary or hymns?’ if abroad you were forced recite them.

    Being a Muslim first and a Pakistani second, is just a conveniently phrased way of indemnifying the majority of Pakistan for any responsibility for the state of this nation. Because you know you can speak against Pakistani’s, but Muslims are untouchable. Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Ashok:
    No, not really. My surname is French, we are ancestrally from Pondicherry and I have successfully traced our ancestral name to Tolouse. The Permal family name has been around for approx. 300 years. Both Permal and Perumal are definitely from Tamil Nadu, however their origins are different.Recommend

  • Raja

    One cannot change another’s biases easily. Yes, there will always be real or perceived discrimination when there is heterogenity (race, religion, language, gender, age) and it is unlikely that we will have a perfect world. But what distinguishes one society or nation from another is whether 1) enough opportunities are available/ given to register protests against such bias 2) are the organs of the state tasked with ensuring that such biases are reduced, irrespective of the quality of the outcomes.

    India has much to be ashamed about in this regard, but it is a society that has been extremelhy comfortable with living with a level of heterogenity that cannot even be imagined in most parts of the world. While the cons of the caste system are far far more than the pros in the current age and time, it is a fact that Indians come across an extremely large number of persons ‘who are not like me’ in their day to day life. It is this heterogenity that has enabled this society to survive for thousands of years. The beauty of India is that it is a land of minorities. Everybody is a minority in some form or the other. For example, just Hindi speaking hindus, possibly the largest gorup, do not constitute more than 20-25% of the population, As this goup does not see itself as homogenous, include the caste/ sect factor, this would drop drastically to 3-5%

    While it is understandable that friends from Pakistan think that muslims and other religious minorities are discriminated against systemically, the picture is different. Some of the things that a literate Pakistani may not be aware of about India are

    a muslim Indian is bound by a muslim personal law. He, for example, is allowed to have more than one wife
    the government has no say in minority run educational institutions who are free to admit students predominantly from their communities. One of the major grouses amongst urban hindus is that a minority student is more likely to get admissions into college than a hindu student with the same marks; in some states, the % of minority institutions, particularly for professional courses is far far high than what their relative proportion in the population warrants
    there is no religious education in schools and colleges except in minority institutions. While one may have differrent views on not having courses on ‘moral sciences’, the fact is nobody will be forced to do anything that is largely against their religion. of course, you may have situations wherer you may have to study in a co-ed institution even if you dont want that, but as in rest of S. Asia, a very large proportion of high schools are for a single gender

    I could add more. While a society should take extra care of their minorities, one should also be wary of the victimhood syndrome amongst them. Mohammed Azharuddin, on being relieved on account of match-fixing charges, famously claimed that this was because he was a vicitm in spite of the fact that he was then the longest serving Indian cricket captain ever.Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman Gilani

    @Asif:

    Fact is, that no one is forcing you to read naa’ats or hamds in this country, no need to get emotional, be rational for once. Why dont you condemn the European countries where there’s a ban on minarets or burqahs? I ask the writer of this blog the same question.

    If your trying to emphasize that just to propitiate the minorities, we remove any Islamic laws, or make the blasphemy law less stern or remove the clause “Islamic Republic” from the name of this state, I will in no way support you, but fact is, thats what majority of the secularists (who are in paucity) want by implementing their perverse ideology unto the state. Recommend

  • parvez

    Thought provoking article.
    When Zia chose to misuse religion for his own ends he did not, could not, foresee the immense damage he was doing. Those who followed were morally stunted with a vision that extended no further than their own noses and one could not expect them to take hard decisions in the national interest.
    Today the non-Muslim Pakistanis are of no importance. The devisive question being propagated today is ‘ Are you a GOOD Muslim ? Any sensible person understands the quicksand one enters with this and yet our leaders are impotently silent. Recommend

  • http://myspace.com/taravadu kulamarva balakrishna

    Vienna,15-07-2011
    Well said. I do not expect people living under full sunshine and moon
    to seek the cover of darkness.Taxi men all over the world know this
    secret.
    -Kulamarva BalakrishnaRecommend

  • Abbas from the US

    @Anthony Permal:

    *

    All I can say to Tanoli for his comments is that I will never
    understand why people in Pakistan –
    when shown the error of their ways –
    prefer to start comparing
    discrimination in other countries as
    if that makes things better.

    *

    Anthony,
    My analysis is that Pakistani Sunni Muslims who may be about 80% of the current Pakistani population, tend to view the world thru the narrow prism of a sense of persecution and oppression from the West, a narrative that fundamentalist writers and ideologues such as Qutub and Maududi have reinforced with theological arguments. There are hundreds and hundreds of groupings across the globe that suffer discrimination based on their ethnic background or even their religious beliefs. However with the Pakistani Muslims the natural human impulse to take up for the underdog or oppressed is lost unless it is a recognizable Muslim group, and only then they will be relate to it and raise their voice against discrimination.
    This phenomenon is not very different from the Jewish sense of being discriminated against in Christian dominated Western societies that ultimately led to the creation of Israel at the expense of an existing ethnic/religious group. And in this transition the oppressed group when it becomes a majority does not hesitate to discriminate against a minority based on their own sense of historical of persecution victim where one becomes blind to the other’s oppression.

    Similarly in the same vein the Indian Muslim fear of ultimate revenge by the upper caste Hindus for their past behaviour over a mellinium has led to this political seperation, and the same would be persecuted possible victims have now evolved into discriminating oppressors.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    The real question is will Pakistan become a Saudi Arabia one day ?Recommend

  • Asif

    @ Abdul Rehman Gilani

    I do condemn France’s ban on the burqa because they are supposed to be a secular democracy. I point out western hypocrisy only when it is needed, not use it as a primary defense for my own inadequacies.

    Yes, the compulsory Urdu syllabus requires all students to recite them. In schools abroad unnecessary theological opinions enforced on any child by teachers are harshly dealt with, regardless of which religion they belong to. This may not apply to private convent schools.

    ‘Perverse ideology’ unto the ‘state’? Why do YOU get to decide what the definition of the ‘state’ is? Those are arbitrary standards and if you want them applied then the man who built this country and gave it its statehood should have more of an arbitrary say than YOU and a long gone dictator, to be fair: ‘You may belong to any religion, caste or creed –that has nothing to do with the business of the State.’

    By his standards the ‘perverse ideology’ is what you speak of. And that^ is the ‘state’. I wonder what he would call the blasphemy laws, which were conceived originally by the British.

    Islamic Republic of Pakistan, made by Muslims, for everyone. A haven of human-rights, freedom and equality intrinsic to Islam. Why is that so hard to imagine? It’s not like history hasn’t shown us examples. Why does Islamic have to mean dominance to you? Why can’t the legacy of an Islamic State be live and let live? Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani: “Fact is, that no one is forcing you to read naa’ats or hamds in this country, no need to get emotional, be rational for once. ”

    Really? Then pray tell, Mr. Gilani, why was I – a Catholic studying in a Catholic school in Karachi made to memorize Hamd & Naats for my exams? Why was I? I studied the Sindh Textbook Board Urdu Syllabus, which is by the way mandatory for ALL schools, Muslim or non-Muslim, in Karachi.

    So no, once again you are wrong.

    Unless you have facts to back your ‘no one is forcing you’ argument.Recommend

  • hammad

    @ Asif ….agree 1 million percent ….couldnt have put it in a better way ….i got a 2 letter word for this state of affairs “Identity Crisis”

    God Damn Zia or whoever it was thats responsible for putting this entire nation on this path that has reduced them to zombies …

    Its sad also to notice as an observer’s perspective from the west, how far away the collective awareness of Pakistan is compared with other countries(i do not mean every single person…im saying that as an over all image) …where all human life, opinions, views, appearances, statuses and departure from one’s personal norms is held sacred and even celebrated as one the beauties of existence. Recommend

  • Jameel

    @Hamza Balouch:

    Its Not right to related Aafia With
    asia.

    You are right, Asia is an innocent being, being persecuted for her faith; proof that minorities have little or no rights or freedom of religion in Pakistan; and those who stand for their rights such as Salman Taseer Shaheed would be killed in day light and their murderers celebrated.
    On the other hand Afia is a terrorists and her support by many in Pakistan shows the same that extremism and support for terrorism/terrorists is mainstream in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Talal

    Allah will question Mumtaz Qadri and those who supported him. May he rot in hell, Ameen!
    And people need to read up on blasphemy on Islam, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was pelted with stones in Taif, and he forgave them all. Are we not supposed to follow him?Recommend

  • A mom from small Indian town

    @Raja
    Nice write up and analysis. Thought provoking.Recommend

  • Haroon Farooq

    It is sad to read but indeed a bitter reality. As per Quaid-e-Azam, this is what was idology of Pakistan:
    “You may belong to any religion or cast or creed – that has nothing to do with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state …. Now keep this as your ideal and you will find that in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus, and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because, that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense, of the citizens of the state of Pakistan.”
    The corrupt politicians have no interest in the welfare of masses, they are busy in building their bank balances.Recommend

  • Realist.

    There is discrimination no doubt about that & can never be justified. Non-Muslims get special seats in legislative assemblies the privilege granted because they might not win elections on general seats. & regarding COAS is like going too far but non-Muslims ARE there in the army.
    Seems like exaggerations have become a norm in our society.
    You are my brother coz you are a ‘Pakistani’ <—- that identity is enough for loving you.:)Recommend

  • malay

    @Spud

    You say, “the founder of Pakistan was a secular man”. I think a more appropriate position
    would be “he was a secular man turned into a communal one in a situation (not entirely of his own making for sure) where he found it convenient to achieve what he sought out to achieve.Recommend

  • Hina Sheikh

    I really liked to read the lines that with Pride you said that you’re a Pakistani.
    But the rest Sorry..I really dont agree…
    Minorities have some Issues n Pakistan That’s True Yes.
    But as compare to the REST World …Minorities are not that kind of Problems.
    Forgot what happened In GUJRAT ,INDIA ,with The muslims ,how many Muslims were burnt by the Hindus,What happened in the case of Babery Masjid?
    What’s happening with Palestinians in Their OWN Country?
    What happened in USA after 9/11 with the muslims?
    In Pakistan For Dr.Afia Siddiqui eveyone took stand ..YES because US Court couldn’t prouve that she committed any CRIME,If She’s a criminal then what about her Children? Where are 2 of her children?What was the Crime of her 6 months old Baby?
    AND ASIA BIBI CASE,She admitted that she abused Prophet Muhammad But She apologized…..
    Shahabaz Bhatti ..For us he was a Pakistani..and we all condemned his assassination But For you he was just a Christian and your Community protested in front of European Parliament Bureau in Bruxelles,Belgium.GAVE an other Chance to the World to talk about Pakistan..If you are a proud Pakistani then why did that in Bruxelles?Why didnt think that SHAHBAZ BHATTI was a Pakistani…Why did not Take stand or raise voice For 35000 Pakistani Who Have died in Drone attacks?
    VERY DISAPPOINTING Column.Sorry.WE THINK THAT WE ALL ARE PAKISTANI 1st THEN WE ARE WHATEVER …… Recommend

  • Realist.

    //please explain the concept of ‘Elphinson Street vs. Zaibunissa Street’ for us. Citing one or two examples where the change has not happened justifies where it has?//

    no, what i mean is its not a BIG thing if the name has been changed. people keep changing names of the places & zebunissa is not even a glorified ‘islamic’ name. & i can give you many examples of places which are on the name of non-muslims :)

    //Are you telling me that a Christian can open his lunch and have it at his desk in front of Muslims during Ramazan? Or that I can buy a burger from KFC and walk down the street munching on it?//

    Yes he can , a lot of Christians live in my neighborhood they do smoke in the streets & nobody minds. a christian friend of mine dint use to smoke in-front of us during ramzan he used to leave the room to smoke we told him that he ‘can’ smoke here , he said he considers it ‘unethical’ to smoke while rest of us are fasting , so it was at ‘his’ decision NOT ours. :)Recommend

  • Maryiam

    gentlemen,

    I find this article to be absolute rubbish, I am from Islamabad and we got a church in every sector. muslim police and rangers guard it with their lives

    Muslims working in MNCs and Missions respect Lent when the Christians fast, however they choose not to fast, hence i dont understand the hue and cry over the month of Ramadan. Dubai as the author has quoted has the same evern harsher rules with respect to observing sanctity of Ramadan.

    Christians in Pakistan tend to have neutral names, like shama, sheba, kiran, younus ( the cricketer) Musa, Ismail, Amjad, Shahbaz bhatti ( the assasinated minister) the anglo/western names arent the deal with most christians in Pakistan, it is an indian trend, so please do not use a taxi drivers exposure to highlight a so called intellectual discrimination. Like for the love of god, How can you use the two words taxi driver and intellectual in the same sentence.

    Thirdly where Asia and Afia are concerned. We call Jesus Christ HAzrat Issa ( PBUH) just Like we call our prophet Hazrat Muhammad PBUH. Our faith is not complete till we love and respect him, as a prophet and messenger of Allah and believe in his teachings. Thousands of Girls including my self are named in respect of Virgin Mary every year. If this is the level of love that we have for your Prophet, is it really such a big deal if we expect christians, and non muslims to respect our prophet if not love him. P.s. Blasphemy has the same punishment for a muslim according to the constitution, hence it is only fair not to equate somebody that has been arrested on the grounds of blasphemy to somebody that has been detained for no reason.

    As far as islamiyat vs. ethics is concerned, This is the funniest of all arguments. Chrisitans represent a total of 2.8 percent of Pakistani population. At best there are 3 out of 2000 students in any private or government school that are christians or followers of the other 7 faiths, does it make any economic sense to coin courses, employ teachers to teach christianity or even bible. when there is a dearth of christians available to teach them also.

    With the same reasoning, does it make sense to give the helm of a government to some man/woman who has refused to study islamiat the very basic islamic course in his primary and secondary education to rule a country of 95 percent muslim population.

    P.s. for the lady from the small town, most christians converted from hinduism cause they felt oppressed. so far very few christians have converted to islam on record just for acceptance. and if people convert just for acceptance, Allah doesnt consider them Muslims, and they would be the biggest bigots to live, they dont even deserve to be called christians or whatever, for if their faith is so worthless to them that for worldly gains ( if any) they are willing to convert, Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @ Anthony Permal:
    .
    The only solution you have is to convert to Islam.
    You are lucky that you can convert to another religion and make your life easier.
    .
    If not you, get the next generation in your families to convert to Islam. Teach them that it doesn’t matter what religion they belong to.
    .
    After all a religion doesn’t make a person a better human being.
    .
    Religion only makes you part of a group. Its only an identity. Don’t make a big deal out of it. One’s relationship to God should have nothing to do with one’s identity.Recommend

  • saqlain abbas

    today when i read this article.i am really very surprised to know the feeling of the writer.Ilived in Jhelum.A very large number of chirsitians ppl are happiled lived here .My doughter r studing in presentation convent high school with hundereds of chiristan girls.They have lot of friends.here.They r grown up here with us .We played lot of football,swim in river .We read in a school.If some incidant happen in a place of Pakistan ppl who r enemies of pak used ir against us,other wise we are all lived here happily.there is no discrimination because of religion.Religion is metter betweeen man and God.we r human being respect the human.Recommend

  • Minhal Lakhanie

    Pakistan came into being for muslims and not Islam. A state where muslims could practice their religion and other cultural activities. After Pakistan came into being, Mr. Mohd Ali Jinnah himself wanted it to be a secular state where even the non-muslims could enjoy their freedom. Unfortunately, things changed after the 1973 constituion, when the state became Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Followed by that all the credit goes to Zia ul Haq with his Islamization. I wish things werent the way they are. Though I am a muslim, i believe that non-muslims should have all equal rights where they could even stand for the President’s chair. Recommend

  • Hammad

    @ Ms. Mariam ….”we call Hazrat ISA PBUH “….I suppose that absolves us from any duties that we might have towards the welfare of the minorities amidst us …
    1. Blasphemy has the same punishment for Muslims”

    Uhhhh duhhh ….and how often do ppl use that as an excuse to settle personal agendas?

    Yeah actually it is a pretty big deal for you to expect ppl to do anything they dont want to do …
    3.the most imbecile of all your statements …”how can you use two words taxi driver and intellectual in the same sentence” …basically shows ur exposure to the outside world also …now I might be partial to this since its somewhat personal I suppose but I drive a cab in NYC ..and I would hate to think that I’m a dummy.. :)

    You are entitled to your opinion ofcourse since thats what civilized societies allow eachother to do ….alas such is not permitted in the country under discussion here

    @ Ms. Sheikh
    You are doing the exact same thing we talked about earlier in this thread …equating your shortcomings …rather offsetting them on the basis of injustices elsewhere…

    Folks IT’S NOT INCUMBANT UPON US TO PLAY GOD ….YOU GUYS LEAVE HIM NOTHING TO DO WHEN YOU START DOING THAT…

    all the best from NYRecommend

  • Abbas from the USA

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:

    to each his own, there is no rationale for a god other than a human need. It is mankind that needs to create this non existant God. Rather primitive urge I think.Recommend

  • Hina Shahid

    Well written Mr. Permal! What is happening in Pakistan is majorly a matter of Identity Crisis. The only identity we have coined for ourselves is Muslim. We have wiped out the history of our land. We are people without a past. We cannot even tolerate that we have a minority. We want to white wash everything with Islam, the good the bad the ugly. We believe that we are not given rights as a minority in other countries. if some one talks about Hindu minority we start talking about the prejudices against Muslims in India. On mentioning of Christian minority we start mentioning the Big Bad West hence Christians and Jews( for our illiterate minds they are all same)…. but we never talk about what we do to our minorities. We prosecute them in the name of the Prophet, one of the kindest men in the history of mankind. We kill them in the name of religion whose very name means peace.

    True that the very foundation of this country lies in a homeland for Muslims but there was never a moment in the history of it’s conception and during the infant days where minorities were not welcome to be a part of the nation. If more and more ordinary people from various walks of life don’t stand up for basic human rights for the entire nation, where we banish the very thought of religious discrimination the Pakistan will cease to exist. Recommend

  • Maryiam

    @ salman arshad,

    your comment disgusts me, how can you even suggest conversion on those grounds, its people like you that fan such flames.Recommend

  • Naseer

    @from india:
    Islam doesn’t convert anyone by force if so, then he isn’t considered as one until he accepts it from his heart and BTW people used to first worship the sun but i guess they were “Forced” to convert to Hinduism rite?Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    Anthony, great article brah.

    When I was a kid, I used to feel sorry for Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, because they had to adopt “Muslim sounding” names. Even then I realized that they didn’t want to draw attention on their religion because of the lack of acceptance in Pakistan.

    I was only ten then, but it wasn’t hard for me to see that they were forced to camouflage their identities.

    It is a pity that Muslims in Pakistan find it so hard to accept that perhaps it is because of discrimination that the minorities are forced to bury their identities.

    I think it is just denial. Muslims are in constant denial, and that’s why their society isn’t improving. People in Pakistan for the longest time believed that Taliban and 9/11 was all a Jewish conspiracy, until their own started to get slaughtered. Too little too late.

    A country is like a person. Until a person can accept he has flaws, no one else can correct them for him. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    BTW, I absolutely LOVE how the only people in the comments section who are underplaying the article, are obviously Muslims.

    How would any of you know a minority’s perspective, if you haven’t been one? How about you actually go talk to a Christian or a Hindu, and ask them how nice Pakistan has been to their families.

    Don’t the Muslims in Pakistan wonder why most of the Christians have low end jobs?

    The African American was treated poorly by America. Affirmative action baby! When you haunt a race/a sect for generations, you lower the probability of their future generations succeeding.

    BTW, as a kid, I remember we were taught in school that Kaliph Omar protected the minorities under his rule, especially the Christians.

    What I find most disturbing from the time I’ve spent on the blogs here, is how personally people seem to take someone else’s viewpoint. Recommend

  • Arif Ali Khan

    @Hina Shahid:
    So true: We believe that we are not given rights as a minority in other countries. if some one talks about Hindu minority we start talking about the prejudices against Muslims in India. On mentioning of Christian minority we start mentioning the Big Bad West hence Christians and Jews( for our illiterate minds they are all same)…. but we never talk about what we do to our minorities. Recommend

  • Sanity

    I agree with most of the facts the author has discussed; I would like to add a few more to the list:

    1- It is true that we, as non-muslims, are required to choose between islamiat and ethics as subjects. Moreover, if one chooses ethics, he/she generally gets lower marks. I was therefore, suggested by my relatives to take Islamiat. I must admit I learned a lot from islamic studies, and it was one of my favourite subjects. However, it is completely unfair and unethical that non-muslims cannot study their own religion.

    2- Just for info, Ram bagh in Karachi has been changed to Aram Bagh.

    3- The most biased subject in our curriculum is ‘History’. It is unfortunate that our history glorifies those who were foreigners and came to our country to loot and plunder; only because they happend to be muslims. Moreover, we are not told that in this part of the world (now Pakistan) various religions (Budhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism etc) lived in harmony. Similarly, we are not taught that there were so many dynasties that ruled this land part of the world and their contributions. Simply because they were non-muslims. Recommend

  • pardesi

    @ ANTHONY PERMAL

    Your title should read, Pakistan- a place where non muslims try living.Recommend

  • Maryiam

    @ Hammad,

    touche mate,

    Having respect for the prophet of Allah Absolves us of duties towards minorities, where does my comment even remotely insinuate that? All I am asking for is a little respect, dont say things that will offend people. Didnt you just get overly touchy about the intellectual issue, people get touchy about religion and their prophets

    on basis of equality the punishment is the same, if people dont use it to settle personal scores, thats the their own personal concern. in the Asia’s case she admitted saying disrespectful things.
    IT SHOULD IN NO WAY BIG DEAL TO MAKE A SLIGHT EFFORT FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE. we, muslims show extreme tolerance for what is shirk to us and the core belief system to them. We show this tolerance and acceptance unwantingly too. You need both hands to clap

    intellectual taxi driver, street smart and intellectual are two different things. I didnt say they are dumb, but it is the taxi drivers that ruffled mr. permal’s feathers in the first place, there are exceptions, you may want to include yourself amongst them.

    May i request you to read my comment again and do tell me where i have tried to equaqte Pakistan’s shortcomings with the atrocities happening all around the world.

    The sole purpose of my argument was to highlight that the things are not as gloomy as people like to propagate. and it was a categorical reply to the author’s rhetoric that minorities have no face/rights/values/identity.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/379/vaqas-asghar/ Vaqas Asghar

    Excellent writeup Anthony

    A country’s success should be measured by the state of being of it’s lowest rung of citizenry. Ours is without a doubt religious minorities, a group with limited rights who are regularly persecuted and marginalised. If we help those Pakistanis who need it most, how will we rise?Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @ Maryiam:
    .
    Your comments are enough reason for all non-Muslims to convert to Islam to have better lives.
    .
    You ask for “little respect” and then you support the blasphemy law if that “little respect” is not given. Wonder what you would do if you expect a lot of respect and its not given.
    .
    And the blasphemy law is not equal for all. There is no law that supports killing a Muslim if he abuses a Hindu God, or even the Christian God.
    I’ve known Urdu and Islamiyat teachers in school making fun of idols being worshiped, and there has been no law to kill them for that. This is not equality.
    .
    As I said, a religion is not what makes a person a better human being.
    .
    As a fellow human being, and a fellow unfortunate Pakistani citizen, I would suggest Anthony to convert to Islam, at least when in Pakistan.
    .
    As a Muslim I can assure him that he will lead a better life. Recommend

  • Sana Saif

    I don’t agree with the fact that people (Pakistani expatriates in particular) are surprised at your nationality. Your survey population seems to the people who come from the valleys up in the north and there you won’t find many non-Muslims, as you have put it. Even if not from the northern areas, most of them are not literate. Their social set-up and economic conditions don’t allow them to study. But we have missionary schools all over the country, and let me stress upon the fact that some of the best institutions in Pakistan are run by the minorities.

    I’m quite surprised at the instances you narrate here, i mean if only you had taken account of their socio-economic background. My mother went to a missionary school in Lahore, I went to a missionary college and have several Christian and Ahmedi friends. And if you speak of the bigger cities, there is a quite a large number of minorities living there for years. Karachi has perhaps the largest number of Parsi residents in Pakistan.

    As for the rest of it…level of tolerance in general is lacking here. People are exploited by the powerful few. I’m sure you have spent enough time in Pakistan to understand what i mean.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Maryiam:

    You said: “All I am asking for is a little respect, dont say things that will offend people. Didnt you just get overly touchy about the intellectual issue, people get touchy about religion and their prophets”

    Yes, but that respect works both ways. I don’t know why you seem to assume we aren’t as offended about the stuff said about us. You think being called ‘kaafir’ is something we enjoy?

    “on basis of equality the punishment is the same”

    No it isn’t. Go read the law again. If you don’t even know this, I’m not sure what your sources are for your ‘information’.

    “we, muslims show extreme tolerance for what is shirk to us and the core belief system to them. We show this tolerance and acceptance unwantingly too.”

    What? You’re saying you’re FORCED to tolerate us and our belief? Because the word ‘unwantingly’ seems to imply that. If I’m wrong, let me know. Last I heard, your Prophet made it a dogma to respect the beliefs of Ahle-Kitaab. Unless I’m mistaken, dogmas are meant to be applied from the heart. So your above statement is scary.

    The sole purpose of my argument was to highlight that the things are not as gloomy as people like to propagate. and it was a categorical reply to the author’s rhetoric that minorities have no face/rights/values/identity.

    Aah, so once again a majority member assumes quite factually that minorities are not suffering as much as we minorities say we are suffering.

    By the way, in your earlier comment, you mentioned this: I am from Islamabad and we got a church in every sector. muslim police and rangers guard it with their lives

    Umm, if minorities were not suffering or discriminated or things weren’t as gloomy, would you care to explain why we need Muslim police & rangers guarding our places of worship with their lives? Do you even realise what you just said?Recommend

  • hammad

    @ Ms. Mariyam

    Picture this scenario for a sec ….you are about a couple of percent in a swarm of 180million or whatever that blasted number is by now ….how retarded do you think you have to be to disrespect a throng of religion rabid lunatics ???….anyone with an iota of basic sensibility would never do that simply on the basis of concern for their own life….

    You assume that muslims respect Jesus and christians dont respect Muhammad ….you ASSUME ….never assume anything

    to be honest i really wasnt personally offended (i always forego that in the light of a good discussion) …i was just disappointed … i dont need commendations for myself “ALL i know is nothing”

    you wrote:

    “on basis of equality the punishment is the same, if people dont use it to settle personal scores, thats the their own personal concern”

    Actually its the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens regardless of their beliefs ….its not anyone’s PERSONAL concern (ridiculous notion…im sorry) …since we are talking about equality DO we have a similar law that awards same punishments for someone bad mouthing Jesus ???….i doubt there is and if there is one ….i wonder how many muslims would have been convicted under that ….i have a number off the top of my head “zero” …

    you also wrote:
    “IT SHOULD IN NO WAY BIG DEAL TO MAKE A SLIGHT EFFORT FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE”

    yea really it shouldnt be ….i wonder which side is in disagreement on that …lets see 178 million vs say a lil under 2 million if that ….hmmm

    you also wrote :
    “we, muslims show extreme tolerance for what is shirk to us and the core belief system to them”

    Again its a non issue ….its their business what they believe…and none of anyone else’s

    I suggest you read my earlier comments again …the part about equating the shortcomings was clearly addressed to another person.

    “Things are not as gloomy” ….

    reallyyyy??? ….a few muslims can testify that they have heard you say disrespectful things towards a prophet who as someone mentioned earlier was one of the most forgiving and tolerant man himself ….and all of a sudden you are facing Death penalty without any further proof and the burden of proving a negative……

    dude im not sure what you consider gloomy ….but if you ask me …i think that might just qualify as that …..

    sincerely,
    Hammad.Recommend

  • hammad

    well …if only i had waited another 10 mins it would’ve saved me alot of typing … Anthony has addressed pretty much all the same things i did ….lol Recommend

  • Maryiam

    Dear Dear Anthony,

    Any muslim that calls anybody but idol worshippers as kaafir needs a reality check and probably revisit his faith as a muslim. I will fight your case against all and any muslims that will call you that.

    The respect for christianity is from the heart, the love for your prophet and your religion is from the heart the so called association between a mortal human being and Almighty God is sacriligeous. We do not use such words for our prophet even. This tolerance is forced it is not a dogma of the faith as we know it.

    As far as the police and rangers guarding churches and other places of worship is concerned, its not something extra that is done to fight discrimination. It is something they do for all mosques regardless of the sect, this either goes unacknowledged or is cleverly phrased to sound like “* if minorities were not suffering or discriminated or things weren’t as gloomy, would you care to explain why we need Muslim police & rangers guarding our places of worship with their lives*Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman Gilani

    @Anthony Permal:

    I studied in a private school and wasn’t forced to learn naa’ats or hamds. And fact is, if you dont want to learn them opt out of the school! Your own article is nothing more than negative recollections and using it as a base you try to earn the sympathy of your fellow secularists. Funny, why dont you oppose the hypocrisy of the West? Recommend