Will Pakistan ever truly accept its Christian community?

Published: March 19, 2015
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These gestures and tweets tell us that we never really accepted the Christian community. They will never be a part of Pakistan, because obviously Pakistan ka matlab kya (what does Pakistan mean)?

I cringe every time I hear the word “minority.” It is true that religiously we are different from Christians, but must we create a social difference too? Minority stands for ‘few’ and the way the term is implied it says ‘with lesser power’. If you find nothing wrong with calling someone “less than” then go ahead and play your part towards fuelling intolerance.

The twin church blast in Lahore caused 14 Christian deaths and around 80 people were injured. An Islamic extremist claimed 14 lives and injured 80 innocent worshippers at a church. Amid the blood, destruction and havoc, the panicky mob lynched two bystanders when one of them was shouting,

“Tum logon ke saath har roz yeh hona chahiye.”

(This should happen to you people every day)

We have forgotten about the 14 who were martyred at the hands of Islamic extremists and here we are, attending to the one that was perhaps wrongly killed by a fearful mob.

Later that day, I came across a blog on The Express Tribune, titled ‘Our way or the high way: Vigilante justice for Lahore Church Blast’, and pondered upon the author’s words. She wrote,

“The vulnerable, the helpless, those who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong appearance; they are the ones deemed as the culprits, the accused, the condemned and, eventually, they are the unheard – under this law of the jungle.”

If your brothers and sisters are lying dead all around you, covered in blood and pain, it is likely that you will act irrationally. No Christian I know would want to do that but I would not be surprised if fear brought out the worst in them.

Together, the media and the nation have ridiculed the Christian community. Only The Express Tribune published photos of the Christian victims of terrorism, reminding people of the smiling faces that died because of extremism, hatred and bigotry.

On Twitter, the hashtag #WeStandWithMinorites began trending, but was commonly followed by an insult or a threat to the Christians of Pakistan.

Worst of all, we saw hashtags like #ChristianTerrorism and #WeSupportPunjabPolice. Do not forget that this is the same Punjab Police that failed to provide protection to the church. The same Punjab Police that stood there and did little when the mob burnt a Christian couple in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan. The same Punjab police that can offer us no protection because they cannot protect their own police lines, as we saw at the Gujjar Singh Police lines last month.

The situation took a grotesque turn when things became uncontrollably savage. Buses were attacked, cars were stoned and the flag of the Islamic Republic was set aflame.

It is said that about 4,000 people took to the streetsdemolishing public property. Christians and Muslims managed to inflict a lot of damage. Large crowds of violent protestors were seen near Youhanabad, and pictures show that they were pulling down the name “Youhanabad” from the gate.

Besides all the violence, Forman Christian College was open to display a show of solidarity against acts of terrorism. A friend from Forman Christian College told me how people ambushed them by throwing stones at their car when she went to drop her mother to Youhanabad. She said she was consumed by fear her when she heard people shouting,

“Ab nahin choreingey inko.”

(We will not leave them now.)

These gestures and tweets tell us that we never really accepted the Christian community. They will never be a part of Pakistan, because obviously Pakistan ka matlab kya (what does Pakistan mean)?

Let us look beyond religions.

Our government has failed us and this democracy is nothing but a farce. The most basic things – our lives – are not protected. We are all equally vulnerable despite what religion we subscribe to.  No churches, no temples and no mosques are safe.

Our schools and our children are not safe. We are citizens of Pakistan, so where then is our fundamental right to life?

Must our humanity be tested this brutally all the time?

Hadeel Naeem

Hadeel Naeem

The author is reading for a PhD in Philosophy at The University of Edinburgh. She blogs at www.hadeelnaeem.com tweets as @hadeelnaeem (twitter.com/hadeelnaeem).

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

  • Rahul

    One of the great ironies of history is that Shias, Ahmedis and Christians all voted for the creation of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    If my relatives have just died in a bombing and someone walks over to say that they deserved to die, I can guarantee you that he will not be going home without a bloody head to show for his trolling. There are quite a lot of laws in many foreign countries which prohibit this kind of trolling.
    That being said, burning them was a step into the realm of subhumanity.Recommend

  • wb

    I don’t think we can blame the Christians for this.

    Because, they were bound by geographic location.

    Ahmadis and Shias, yes. They’re basically eating what they cooked some 70 years ago and no sympathy.

    But Christians were indeed helpless. They had to support the seperation movement just to earn the sympathy of militant Muslims (which is 99.99%), irrespective of their sect.Recommend

  • ajay gupta

    u forgot bengali muslims. & with time, the country saw all the aforementioned communities as unsuitable pakistanis. so much for the citadel of islam is south asia.Recommend

  • Jor El

    Get ur facts right dude. R u implying that Indian Christians voted for creation of Pakistan ???Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    Christians voted for Pakistan? Don’t tell me you just made that up.Recommend

  • Gulchand Mehta

    If they had stayed in Bharat it would have been worse.
    Look what is happening to Bharat. It has become an
    extremist state. Where Nathuram Godse is a hero. And
    a bigot and racist is the PM. Who wants all minorities to
    disappear, go away.Recommend

  • hnr

    It is not only Pakistan but most islamic countires find it difficult to accept people of other faiths.The example often quoted is the gulf nations but the truth how many are allowed to practice their faith or havetheir won place of worship.Right now the gulf nations needs talents and skills of other denominations so it has to tolerate them much against their own feeling as the they they lack the talent and the skill.Recommend

  • shan shah

    The writer of this article forgot while writing, ‘will pakistan truly accept its Christian minority’, that everyone in Pakistan is being targeted. Shias, Ahmedis, even Sunnis. How many people were burnt when terrorists killed 142 MUSLIM children in Peshawar, how many people burned when there was an attack on an imambargah in Peshawar soon after, how many people burned and how many flags burned when there was another attack on an imambargah in shikarpur. When shia’s are killed in Hazara everyday, how many articles does she write by the title how pakistan doesn’t accept its Shia minority. What about when shia’s are killed in Quetta, and when Sunnis are killed does she write why Sunnis are being killed. God knows everyone hates those terrorists. We condemn and despise the attack. How does that justify burning the flag and people. I’m sure they were a few people who did this and will be brought to justice. We should all, wether Sunni, Shia or christan be a strength for each other. By the way, there are some, like this writer who manage to turn this into a Muslim majority Pakistan vs Christian minority. Shame on you. Don’t you know that the terrorists who bombed the church are probably planning another attack on a mosque or an imambargah or a school somewhere. Someone somewhere is pretty happy that their plan to destroy Pakistan from the inside is taking shape. Recommend

  • shan shah

    My bad, the writer is a heRecommend

  • youhanabadcrhiristan terorists

    so they coud destroy pakistan togetherRecommend

  • Glenn

    I am a Christian and I love Pakistan, even though there are problems and worries but i know that Love can solve all problems and not hate!!!!

    On another note The attitude of the Christians in Youhanabad was sad though but it certainly not Christian! Their concepts are wrong. Those who have taken the law in their hands will be accountable for.Recommend

  • islooboy

    Christian votes enabled partition of punjabRecommend

  • Meshuga

    Are you saying that Christians and Muslims were allowed to vote for Partition but not the majority Hindus? Maybe Imran Khan should have started his dharna against that before the one last year against Sharif babu. That sounds like that’s when the corruption at the voting booth started – in 1947. That was when the fix was in.Recommend

  • Gul Zaman Ghorgasht

    It is still better than eating idlis and dosas cooked by Bajrang dal,
    Vishwa Hindu Parisad, Venvasi Kalyan Ashram.Recommend

  • islooboy

    hindus were against partition on religious basis cuz they wanted the subjugation of muslims to continueRecommend

  • islooboy

    due to the hung parliament of punjab at the time of partition the votes of christians were required to pass a resolution for partitionRecommend

  • siesmann

    Christians are being killed as all other Pakistanis,plus exclusively for their being christians.That is the difference.Recommend

  • Rana Eddy

    To all those fellow Indians here, who are insisting that Partition was bad , should think again. In fact Dr. Ambedkar , a staunch Rationalist & Realist ,wanted Complete Partition —- it would have been good for all the people -Hindus & MuslimsRecommend

  • Aimon Shahbaz

    Thank you for your kind words. Pakistan is not only mine just because I’m a Muslim. It is equally yours too! Even the white part in flag represents our Christian sisters and brothers. I don’t know why there’s such hate and violence speech going on between us. But as a fellow Pakistani, let me say that we are normal human beings just like any one, we don’t hate you or any other minority. We Muslims become a victim of terrorist attack more than any one so we are with you during tough times and we definitely don’t encourage attacks on Christian community or on any one. Recommend