Should he stay silent just because he is a Hindu MNA in a Pakistani National Assembly?

Published: June 22, 2015
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You want a life changing lesson this Ramazan? Let it be one of humility and acknowledgement.

Lal Malhi’s one minute and thirteen seconds on the National Assembly floor this past week summed up more than just the ignorance of our elected representatives; it spoke to an alarmingly prevalent disregard for our Hindu citizens.

That not all Hindus are Indian and that not all Indians are Hindu seems too complex a concept for most of us. If only these despicable “Hindu ga’ay ka pujari” (Hindus are cow-worshippers) slogans were an anomaly.

Earlier this month, the hammer-wielding Lutf Lashari destroyed five idols in Durga Shiv Mandir (the story eerily broke in a very Fox News “let-me-tell-you-how-this-man-was-mentally-ill” style). Malhi also called attention to forced conversions: he spoke of a 14-year-old abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. This incident, too, is not an isolated one.

The Movement for Solidarity and Peace estimates around 300 annual forced conversions for Hindus and the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) estimates that 20 Hindu girls are abducted or forcibly converted every month.

It is hard to understand then the exclamation and surprise of fellow Pakistanis upon hearing that, on average, 5,000 Hindus move to India every year and that in 2015 alone, 4,300 members of Pakistan’s Hindu and Sikh community were granted Indian citizenship.

It’s about time we explicitly register that we have failed our religious minorities. That constructing a cross in Karachi does not and will not compensate for decades of discrimination that we have subjected upon our Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities. Not to say anything of the pain and suffering our Shiite community has faced.

This acknowledgment is critical to understanding how the Muslim-majoritarian bias, born out of the need to cater to Muslim majority provinces within the context of a pre-partition Hindu-majority India, has persisted through the decades. Jinnah had foreseen many implications of the religious rhetoric for partition and had begun a campaign to ease religious tensions and incorporate all religious groups within the fold of a single, united nation.

However, the country’s leadership over the years has fallen short of fulfilling Quaid’s assurances that for all political purposes “Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims” and that religion has “nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Bhutto’s declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims and Zia’s vast Islamisation are perhaps the most apt examples. Our leaders have levied harsh laws on the country’s minorities for political advantage with fundamentalist parties. These laws have not only been damaging in the narrow sense of their ill effects on specific minority groups, but have also resulted in a broader institutional detriment characterised by the government’s tendency to intervene in matters of religion.

There are no quick fixes to these unfulfilled promises of equality.

The path to restoration of these weak relations must begin with a full-on acknowledgement of our failures as a country. Listen closely and Malhi’s voice is laced with sorrow – it’s an outburst, a complaint from an outwardly composed but inwardly disheartened, disillusioned man on the verge of tears. His demeanour represents the sad fate of our minorities.

Our founder would turn in his grave if he heard that a Hindu MNA is expected to sit silently in the face of hate speech in the country’s highest political body.

Let us then move beyond airing Jinnah’s call for plurality and equality across religions on Independence Day alone and really think hard about internalising his message in our daily state of being. It’s about time we take a closer look at our priorities both as a nation and as individual members of this society. There is much that our political leadership must fix. But there is much, much still that must emanate with the people. Us. The readers. The drivers. The cooks. The doctors. The lawyers. The engineers. The teachers. The students. The everyday Pakistanis.

You want a life changing lesson this Ramazan? Let it be one of humility and acknowledgement. Perhaps, this blessed month, as we celebrate our freedom of religious observation, we’ll keep in mind there are millions in our country for whom we haven’t afforded the same luxury.

Know that this recognition does not make us villains and it certainly does not imply that the entire country, without exception, is a religiously intolerant space for minorities. To derive so would only fuel shallow misconceptions about a diverse and largely welcoming people. It should, instead, help highlight our misplaced national priorities and underscore an important shortcoming for a resilient people so that we can begin to seek mature answers to difficult questions.

Hamza Farrukh

Hamza Farrukh

Hailing from Rawalpindi, he is a recent graduate from Williams College, MA, where he majored in Economics and Political Science with a concentration in Leadership Studies. He spent his junior year at Exeter College, Oxford and was featured on PTV News last summer as the pride of Pakistan. He is a cricket enthusiast and loves to cook. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/HamzaFarrukh93. He tweets as @hamzafarrukh (twitter.com/hamzafarrukh)

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

  • Cosmo

    “The Pure Breed” is the concept of Pakistan and there is so much wrong in that notion.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    Pakistani Muslims are mostly those converted at the point of a sword in earlier generations. They want to inflict the same trauma on others that their families went through. You have to read V.S. Naipaul’s “Among the Believers” to understand the Psyche of the Pakistani Muslim.Recommend

  • Maratha warrior

    Ideology of hate is growing since 623 AD… Pakistan is not a exception, problem is same in all Muslim countries.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Thanks to this writer for bringing up this issue.. Belongs to a rare breed in Pakistan.. Most Pakistanis who otherwise wax eloquent on perceived injustices to Rohingyas, will develop cold feet while talking about the bad state of their minorities or talking about persecution of Chinese Muslims.Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    The cross being built in Karachi is at best symbolic and signifies nothing. Given the situation with minorities in Pakistan, it is possible that the cross may actually exacerbate tensions. As a Christian, I do not support this giant cross and I wish the day will come instead when Pakistanis of the majority sect show compassion towards all their minorities.

    Your article is compassionate and timely in view of recent events, but I would like to correct you that the situation with minorities occurred soon after independence as can be seen by Jogendra Nath Mandal’s resignation letter.Recommend

  • abhi

    gtreat blog! while in another blog people are trying to convince others that there are no forces convesions in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Cynical

    This article should be an eye opener for some Indians who think all Pakistanis are religious bigots. To the author; more power to your pen.Recommend

  • raw is war

    Good article. Which proves Pakistani Hindus have no reason whatsoever to stay back. Things will only get worse for them. They should migrate to India en-mass.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Hindus are not muslims, christians are not muslims, Ahmedis are not real muslims, Shias are not muslim enough……

    Where will it stop?Recommend

  • DareDevil

    why there is so much unrest in muslim country only and why if there is any conflict nowadays, always the other party is muslim? is islam truly a religion of peace? stats shows otherwise.Recommend

  • BanglaBondhu

    Regardless of how bad Pakistani Hindus have it, Rohingya are in a far worse situation in Burma. You cannot compare the two. Nor are the injustices “perceived”. They are real.Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    Dear writer, the man in the picture showing above, is not Lal Malhi.Recommend

  • Komal S

    Well written but i have a problem when you say that by and large Pakistan is welcoming of its minorities. Pakistan has turned a blind eye towards the atrocities against its minorities for over 6 decades now. For generations you have systematically ingrained in people’s mind that Islam is a superior religion and converting people is done for their own good. You have brainwashed the youngsters saying muslims are brave compared to the timid and cunning hindus. Anything in the name of Allah is a fair game for you. Perception that Pakistan was mecca for minorities before Bhutto brought the anti-ahmedi laws is misleading. Unfortunately your country was formed with the mindset that superior muslims will have to play second fiddle to a democratic majority Hindu India and had poisoned the muslims enough about the anti-hindu feelings. To say Pakistani founding fathers genuinely stood for minorities with the idea of Pakistan holds no water. The whole premise of the two nation theory is anti-secular and consequently anti-minority.Recommend

  • guest

    We hear about the force conversion of muslims in India but how about our own minorities???Recommend

  • guest

    Where is my comment? What was wrong with it?Recommend

  • abhi

    the situation of Rohingya is bad because none of the Islamic countries are giving the asylum, despite tall claims of islamic bortherhood and ummah no muslim nation has come forward to provide a shelter to these muslims.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    What else did you expect to happen in Pakistan once you declare that nation Islamic.
    Now a days, Pakistanis are busy defining what is Islamic (Sunni or Shia) and how Islamic is Islamic.
    Minorities have no place in Pakistan. They should just move out.Recommend

  • ram

    It is a very simple question, if you want live among hindus,sikhs,christians,jains,jews where every one has equal opportunities then why did you create Pakistan,

    Always Remember Pakistan was created by murdering thousands of Muslims and Indians,sikhs. How would you like to explains millions of Muslims who left everything t and migrated to Pakistan to live among sikhs and hindus.Recommend

  • Syed Abdullah Qudoos Najami

    My Question to all Non Muslims…What will Prophet of Islam (pbuh) will do to Hindu shrines and idols in an Islamic country. He will order these to be destroyed immediately. So, please do not blame muslims..we must follow orders and traditions of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) otherwise we are doomed in the world and in the afterlife.Recommend

  • Ram Rahim

    The blog by Hamza Farrukh highlights an existential problem for minorities in Pakistan which has never been sympathetic to non-Sunnis, including the “Muslim brethren” Shias. Hindus have, generally, been viewed as “enemies” by the majority of Pakistanis, particularly those subjected to indoctrination and brainwashing in madrassahs which have notoriously become what is known as the “terrorist factory”. While Pakistani Muslims shed crocodile tears for the mistreatment of Muslims in other countries – the Rohingyas in Myanmar are the latest example – their selective amnesia prevents them from seeing the barbaric atrocities they commit against Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in their own house. How would a Pakistani Muslim feel if, just for argument’s sake, his Muslim daughter of 12 or 13 was forcibly converted into a different faith at gun point and married away to an old man who is fit to be her grandfather. that’s what happens to Hindu girls in Pakistan. No wonder, the entire world has little or no respect for Pakistanis who are being typecast as uncivilized extremists and atrociously violent against weaker sections of society. You can’t use religion as a justification to commit these barbaric acts.Recommend

  • Ammar Zafarullah

    Sir you are grossly mistaken! My prophet is Rehmat-ul-Alamieen. So please do not pass your hate as his preachings.Recommend

  • Brar

    you can not tolerate even Muslims such as Ahamis, Shias Hazara and destroy their places of worship. Hypocates to the core.Recommend

  • seismann

    You are doomed.Period!!!Recommend

  • seismann

    “Hindus will cease to be” is the message Pakistani took of Jinnah’s speech.And they are working hard to make that a reality.(substitute any minority for Hindus).Recommend

  • seismann

    Will stop at ISISized Pakistan,perhaps!!Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Lets all hope it doesn’t come to that, I wouldn’t wish ISIS on even my worst enemiesRecommend

  • shehzil

    No, he shouldnt. He has as much rights in the country as anyother Recommend

  • Torch Bearer

    So much hue and cry over one isolated Babri Masjid demolition! And here in Pakistan every day Hindu temples are being vandalized, Idols broken & mass immigration of minority communities.Seems Pakistan has lost its soul.Recommend

  • IAF101

    Hindus who stayed back were either crazy, foolish and absolutely retarded to trust the Mohammedans. Conversely, Muslims to didn’t trust their own co-religionists are today international superstars and tycoons like ShahRukh Khan and Azim Premji.

    And despite the barbaric apartheid of the Pakistani State against the few unfortunate Hindus and Sikhs and Christians who are trapped in Pakistan, the Pakistan Govt and its delusional people have the temerity to point at India and question its treatment of its minorities!

    LOLRecommend