If you think Trump is racist, come to Pakistan

Published: November 23, 2016

One of the reasons Pakistan was founded was for the Muslims to show the Hindus of India how they were supposed to treat the minority communities. PHOTO: TWITTER.

Muslims in the US and across the globe are condemning, in the strongest possible words, the US President-Elect Trump, for his anti-Islam rhetoric during the election campaign. And now that the British and American people have made the seemingly impossible possible, in the form of Brexit and Trump’s victory respectively, Muslims have every reason to be worried about a substantial increase in Islamophobia in the West.

But while the concern for our Muslim brethren living abroad is completely legitimate, let us introspect and have an objective, impartial discussion about Pakistan’s own covert affair with bigotry.

One of the reasons Pakistan was founded was for the Muslims to show the Hindus of India how they were supposed to treat the minority communities. In Pakistan, the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other marginalised groups would live side by side with the Muslims as equals. How we have failed in that pledge!

A cursory glance at the treatment of our fellow countrymen, who have beliefs different from us, would suffice to demonstrate the layers of discrimination that unfortunately exist in the land of the pure. What is more shocking is that this unconscious prejudice has provincial and sectarian dimensions to it as well, meaning that even Muslim Pakistanis are not immune from such intolerant tendencies.

Let us begin with the brand of racism that non-Muslims face in the Islamic Republic. If we see the status of Christians, we know very well that derogatory term used when referring to a Christian. They have been relegated to cleaning duties, working as sweepers in our homes, offices, and on the streets. Though our government has allotted a quota for the Christian community in educational institutions and for jobs, it has clearly not been enough. Just ask yourself, when was the last time you met a well-to-do Christian doctor, engineer or bureaucrat in Pakistan? The picture of the young boy, probably a university student, getting his celebratory picture taken at the scene of a mob attack, which was vandalised homes in Youhanabad, a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore, is indicative of the xenophobic mind-set some people have in our nation.

Now let’s talk about the Hindus. Jinnah went out of his way to have a constituent assembly that represented the diversity of the country. That is why Jogendra Nath Mandal, a Hindu who chose to stay in Pakistan, was elected as the first Chairman of the Assembly. It is saddening to note that, disillusioned by the theological course Pakistani politics was taking, Mandal decided to leave Pakistan and relocate to India.

The same practice was repeated in recent years, when scores of Sindhi Hindus, living in Pakistan for generations, left for India, because our state failed to protect them against the scourge of forced conversions. Muslims hardly ever interact with Hindus in Pakistan, let alone befriend them. As the majority, it was our collective responsibility to make them feel safe and secure. Instead, we maintained silence whenever such incidents occur, thereby validating our inner dislike for them.

As pointed out, even Muslims face prejudice in Pakistan, unless of course you are a Sunni – the Pakistani equivalents of Caucasians in America. Take, for example, the plight of the Shia community. On social media, in books, in educational institutions, and even in mosques, our Shia brethren are ridiculed, denounced as ‘kafirs’ and verbally abused. What right does anyone have to label another kafir? We lie, cheat, womanise and accept bribes, but the moment it comes to calling Shias or Ismailis kafirs, suddenly we ‘find our faith’ and transform into the most zealous devotees of Islam. Allah is the Creator of everything in this universe; surely we can entrust Him to determine better who is or isn’t a Muslim.

Having discussed our peoples’ racist attitudes from a religious context, let’s turn our attention to the provincial aspect of this intolerance. Ask the average Pakhtun, Sindhi, or Baloch what he thinks about Punjabis, and most likely you will receive an answer loaded with curses and utter loathing. Agreed, the Punjabi establishment – military, politicians and the bureaucracy – has wrongly maintained unchecked control over national resources at the expense of other provinces, but does that in turn justify such hatred against the entire population of Punjab? This is the very definition of racism.

A somewhat similar situation exists in relation to the status of Muhajirs in Sindh. Muhajirs have been treated with contempt and disdain by the indigenous Sindhis, who think the Muhajirs – who left everything to come to Pakistan – are destroying their culture.

All this, taken as whole, shows that rather than calling foul at the west for its discriminatory attitude towards Muslims, it is high time that we in Pakistan realise and stop our own bigoted failings, by treating our minorities equally, with the respect that they worthy of as our fellow Pakistanis.

Do you think Pakistanis are a racist people?

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Usman Ali Virk

Usman Ali Virk

The author hails from Lahore and is a lawyer by profession. He recently graduated with a Masters in Law from the University of California, Berkeley.

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

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Pakistanis are scared that Trump will do to Muslims what Pakistani Muslims do to non-Muslims in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Pakistani_Jawan

    First of all. Let me tell you Mr. Writer. I had many Christian and Hindu Class Fellows even Ahmadies. But We were like one unit. in my whole life I never found any such example, you are sharing here. Stop Defaming Pakistan uselessly on NGO’s payroll. One more thing, my father was in Army and we had been living in many cities, we lived with hindus, christians, shias, hazara, baloch, pushtoons, kashmiris, etc but never found one single example as you stated on here. yes individual acts are there with foreign funded motives but you cant name Pakistan as a Sectarian State. I found Express Tribune as one of Anti State Media and always busy in defaming and insult Pakistan. You will never talk about Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan but you are all open to speak negative against Pakistan. Rather giving positive suggestions to eliminate such things you people always burn such issues. Negative Media and Yellow Journalism at its worst. Rest in Peace Pakistani Journalism..Recommend

  • Haider Khan

    It looks like the author does not know what racism actually means.

  • numbersnumbers

    Wow, and just what jobs are available to Christians and Ahmadis in Pakistan? Please stop supporting intolerance in Pakistan by pretending it doesn’t exist!Recommend

  • Khuram Iftikhar

    Dude, why are you confusing religious extremism with racism?Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    A very accurate image of Pakistani mentality when it comes to minorities. All that hue and cry about poor Palestinians and Kashmiris suddenly looks completely fake and bogus when Pakistanis do exactly the same with their own minorities.Recommend

  • Sane

    more than 100% correct.Recommend

  • ab

    How come you know and how can you say that there is a flaw in education system in Pakistan living in India and never visiting Pakistan.? Your parents told you, or Mr Modi told you.Recommend

  • zubairw

    So now facts and figures quoted and no actual evidence given. Simply hearsay and rumors now make for good journalists Recommend

  • shahid jamal tubrazy

    author seems confused, could not differ with extremism and racism, there is no single event of racism ever occurred here. actual here is extremism but not racism.Recommend

  • Asfandyar Khan

    What Race Is Hindus?Recommend

  • SamSal

    It’s a BLOG – not a news item.
    People who write blogs are bloggers, not journalists!Recommend

  • SamSal

    So, you are saying your 1 company makes entire Pakistan?
    What world are you living in?Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    And how can you know about discrimination against Muslims in the WEST if you have never visited? Did Hafiz Saeed tell you?Recommend

  • Hira

    Your response is better put then this article…nice Recommend

  • Sami
  • Patwari

    Elephant-pucky. Bullheaded stuck in a ditch people will
    understand logic. It’s people like you who have given
    the Land of the Pure a sickening reputation worldwide.Recommend

  • inam
  • hore choopo

    Pakistanis are racist to some extent.Biradri system is one aspect.They are also sectarian in their religious values.Overall they are less racist compared to caucasians.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Then why minorities population has increased in India? What happened to Hindus from 22% to 1%?Recommend

  • vinsin

    What was Bangladesh genocide? What was killing during partition? Then how come Muslim population increased in India? Why Indian Muslims dont move to Pakistan, a country created by them?

    There is nothing called state sponsored terrorism.
    Do Hindus and Sikhs still own properties in Mall Road, Lahore?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Muslims never ruled India may be northern India. British fought Marathas and Sikhs mainly not Muslims.

    So what do you want another partition of India? Why India cannot follow Pakistan? So rejecting demand of another partition is being xenophobic.Recommend