Trump’s ban on Muslims is just as offensive as Pakistan’s racial profiling of Pakhtuns

Published: February 25, 2017

The Pakistani public has developed kneejerk hatred against the Afghan Pashtuns. PHOTO: AP

Not every Muslim is a terrorist but a significant number of terrorist incidents are conducted by Muslims. This statement is controversial and yet, deep down we all know that there is some sort of evidence for it. At least the terrorist incidents which are indiscriminate and use suicide bombings are overwhelmingly committed by Muslims.

Of course, as already mentioned, this does not mean that every Muslim is a terrorist and in fact thinking in such terms would be overstretching and overgeneralisation, resulting in bigotry if endorsed by the general populace and institutionalised discrimination if incorporated into laws by the state.

Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban got so much criticism mainly because of the very same reason. The argument presented against it is that individual Muslims cannot be punished or barred because few of their coreligionists are terrorists. Eventually, no matter which group we belong to, we are individuals and deserve to be treated with respect and equality. This argument will still hold even if a large majority of an ethnic or religious group to which an individual belongs to is indulging in extremism. Every person needs to be ultimately judged on his/her individual merit. Even if the group influence is strong, we should be judged on our individual merit. This principle is the foundation of liberalism which ultimately places individual rights over group rights or the state.

When Trump’s ban was announced, there was a huge hue and cry in Pakistan, and ironically even from the right-wing circles. Many who have shown even the worst kind of bigotry against some minority sect (particularly Ahmadis) or an ethnic group were crying over “discrimination” against Muslims.

Was Trump’s ban discriminatory? Yes it was and there is absolutely no doubt about it. However, I wish that my fellow Pakistanis and our government would also consider our own bigoted and discriminatory behaviour before crying about unfairness of Trump’s ban.

The very fact is that as a society, we reek of bigotry and are guilty of stereotyping groups and sects we don’t like. We continuously violate the same fundamental principle of liberalism and yet cry when we find ourselves a victim.

Furthermore, examples of our third-class mentality are abound. For example, many of us think that Pakhtuns, particularly Afghans, are all terrorists. This mind-set right here is responsible for the calls behind deporting all Afghans refugees. Many hypocritical Pakistanis, who feel the “pain” of Syrian refugees (particularly of those who have been denied asylum), are extremely vocal in saying that Afghans are a nation of ingratitude people whenever a terrorist attack happens on Pakistani soil. The fact that Afghanistan’s present anarchy has a lot to do with us is something that escapes our otherwise rich imagination.

Every time there is a blast in the country, the ethnicity which gets the spotlight is the Pakhtuns, along with the Afghans. Over the years, the Pakistani public has developed kneejerk hatred against the Afghan Pakhtuns, which has permeated our cultural zeitgeist. There are news of incidents where even ordinary warnings issued by normal law and enforcement agencies openly draw the focus towards them, and reinforce the prevalent stereotypical views. Below is an example:

The said “notice” making rounds on social media is ill worded and simply frames all Pakhtuns as potential terrorists. In my opinion, this is exactly the kind of offensive racial profiling which Muslims living in western countries have at times complained against. In fact, it is even worse because it is blatant.

I do admit that the number of suicide bombers who are Pakhtuns, particularly Afghans, is higher. However, this does not mean that we must start looking at every person of this group with a suspicious eye. As already mentioned, this severely violates the liberal principle. An overwhelming number of them are peaceful people.

Moreover, the apparent higher frequency of suicide bombers from this group also has a strong historical basis behind it, as after all it is their land which has been the playing ground for various powers. During the British Raj, it was the great game between Russia and Britain and the Pakhtuns were caught in the middle of it. Subsequently, it was them who had to bear the brunt of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. After that, it was again the Pakhtuns who suffered when the Taliban regime propped up in the 90s. They again bore the brunt when the US invaded it on the pretext of catching Osama Bin Laden. Their misery has not ended as literally every operation against militants has disproportionately targeted the entire group.

The Pakistani government and the establishment also bear a lot of responsibility for whatever has happened so far, but in our collective imagination, the Pakhtuns somehow are responsible. This belief is now resulting in racial profiling and offensive stereotyping, particularly by the Punjabis.

I think we need to change our pattern of thinking and start understanding that people need to be treated on individual merit, and racial profiling and stereotyping creates hatred and complicates our fight against extremism.


Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (

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

  • Usman Arshad

    I condemn thisRecommend

  • Sami

    The so called directive was first shared on the Pukhtoon nationalist website that is known to make things up and they bash Punjabis all the time. For the kind information of the author the directive is photoshopped and holds no official insignia. It is totally FAKE.

    Punjab Police has a letterpad and proper stamp for any kind of Declaration to the public. So kindly do some research before coming to conclusions. This is fake and you so called liberals are finding ways to bash Punjab and Punjab police in general.

    You guys have just fallen into the trap of Ethnic Nationalist Pukhtoons who have their own agenda and nothing else. They photoshopped this and you have fallen for it. I have a question that why no picture is available on any shop on any public place of this directive?. Because it is FAKE and you will not find it anywhere.Recommend

  • Anon

    No…….Trump’s ban on Muslims is just as offensive as Jinnah’s two-nation theory………..Recommend

  • Mubashir Iqbal

    Kinda agree with you except the fact, this notice was never issued by Punjab Police, it bears no stamp, isnt on official letter head, Punjab Police and Punjab Government has refuted its authenticity, and have on three separate occasions called it out fake. Now why do they have to do to make you know that no such thing was ever issued. Recommend

  • vinsin

    Liberals around the world are accused of being Muslims appeaser. Why only non-Muslims majority states has to liberal? Why Muslims cannot be liberal?
    Pakistan is not even a secular state expecting her to be a liberal state is too much. Muslims represent a religious groups whereas as Pakhtuns an ethnicity.

    You cannot sidelined public sentiment. What exactly Pakistan has done for Afghanistan?

    American are not like Hindu who would agree on partition easily.Recommend

  • Bakhtawer Bilal

    Very well written. It’s so true. Recommend

  • raees

    Documentation is needed under Pakistani Laws.Recommend

  • Eddied

    The USA has never had a ban on Muslims…the proposed ban is on countries that have lax screening of individuals who can get on flights to America…unfortunately most of them are Muslim countries…but other Muslim countries continue to have unlimited travel access…Recommend

  • SaneVoice

    Afghans in any case have their own country. This cannot be connected with Trumps general brush stroke against muslims when none of the countries on his ban list involved have attacked the USA. However is he is profiling all against a single religion. Being a muslim means many things and has many different variations of the same. Recommend

  • Asad Khokhar

    what else can you except from visionary leaders like sharifs?Recommend

  • Shumaila Mehdi

    come on …Notice in the column is NOT an Official warning…. its a fake letter without any signature or protocol number …part of 5th generation war against the state!!! presstitutes must show some maturity :/Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Well, unfortunately, the people from the Pathan and the Afghan backgrounds are disproportionately involved in terrorist activities all over Pakistan.

    In the same manner, unfortunately, the people from the Muslim backgrounds – Arabs mostly – are disproportionately involved in terrorist activities in the western countries.

    Calling a spade a spade, to save lives, should not have to pass through the graduating school of political correctness.

    The “victims” of terror should at least be allowed the right define the moniker.Recommend

  • Shumaila Mehdi

    Pashtuns of Pakistan are the bravest, honorable, proud fighting arm of Pak.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    In fact, the first victims of Trump’s Muslim-ban should be liberal Pakistani journalists and the writers, who critically write about Pakistani society, the government and the military; and who frequently roam between the U.S. and Pakistan. Therefore, they are going to be the first victims of Trump’s ‘Muslim-ban’ not the Pakistanis that you’ve referred to in your article (who live all their lives in Pakistan).Recommend

  • naveed

    this letter is a fake it was not distributed by the government agencies. congratulation on writing an article without doing homeworkRecommend

  • Sami Shahid

    Fake letterRecommend

  • river stone

    this is what pakistan wants :)Recommend

  • fze

    When I was small, people used to say ‘don’t go out of the house otherwise Pathan lay jaey ga.’ Recommend

  • The supposed police circular is FAKE! How does the author not know this? It’s generally a good idea not to accept as official a document that’s lacking a letterhead or a signature! And ET published without any scrutiny or editorial filter?Recommend

  • Don Tim

    This is fake it was in news….this is a sleeper cell who is doing this and person who wrote this article is part of that ….first they make fake news than there helpers in media do the rest of work….Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    Well Said !!!
    Our hypocrisy has no limits. We have failed to accept Afghan refugees and have blamed them for terrorism. The reality is terrorism exist in Pakistan due to our wrong foreign policy and corrupt governments who have paid no attention to grass root education yielding to a polarization of society. It is just easy to blame then to be responsible!Recommend

  • El Cid

    The systematic genocide of the Pashtuns by US backed Pakistani mercenaries will have repercussions down the generations.

  • Hayat Ali Shaw

    It is the international recognition that pukhtuns are a superior race when they can disintegrate ussr , USA , British what to say if India or their accomplice punjabis keep on watch we will rule the Jews also they are lesser genetically in every sphere from the pukhtuns who are the owners of world two third under ground world Recommend

  • Muhammad Ali

    Actually, I see a lot of similarity between Trump and Nawaz Sharif. For example,
    1. Trump bans immigrants from Syria and thinks them terrorists. Nawaz Sharif does the same for Afghan immigrants and thinks all of them are terrorists.
    2. Trump has his family in the politics. Nawaz Sharif has the same
    3. Trump wants to build a wall in the Mexican border. Nawaz wants to seal the border of Afghanistan.
    4. Trump thinks Muslims are terrorists. Nawaz thinks Pathans are terrorists.
    5. Trump wants to lower the taxes. Nawaz pays the lowest taxes
    Unfortunately, it is not only the Pakhtuns who are racially discriminated. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan face the same situation.Recommend

  • Nasir H. Khan

    Article says Pakistani’s “Are extremely vocal in saying that Afghans are a nation of ingratitude people whenever a terrorist attack happens on Pakistani soil”, It is totally true that Afghans have never appreciated Pakistan’s hospitality in hosting millions of them after the Russian invasion. They have also never thanked Pakistan in helping them in driving the Russians out. Fact is that most Afghans have never accepted Pakistan as a country and are still harboring dreams of separating KPK and Baluchistan from Pakistan. I say this based on discussions I have had with many Afghans living overseas. Where Pakistan deserves blame is their interference in Afghanistan after the Russians had been driven out. It is a shame that we have not been able to live as good neighbors.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    I agree with the essence of this article. Although the recent terrorist attacks turned out to involve either Afghans or their facilitator in tribal region, equal number of terrorists especially south punjab based outfits are extremist Pujabis. So generalization is bad. I don’t the authenticity of the ad the author shared but if it us true it shouldn’t use the word Pathan or Afghan. They can simply address by saying “non locals”. Having said that I must also add that we should support the combing operations of security agencies and help them together by leaving any ethnic identity. After all it us too who bash security agencies when some blast happens by attributing lack of intelligence based actions. Recommend

  • amir

    not just racial profiling but subjugating minorities, especially Ahmadis, from main stream, eg in Army an Ahmadi will rarely get promoted beyond Lt. Col, in government kept out of senior roles, if found out harassed, a religious party formed to ensure they are harrassed annually, and whereever in the world, in media openly trashed by so called subject matter experts like Dr. Liaqat. And if political oponenents wants other put under pressure, call them member of Qadiani or their sympathizer.Recommend


    Profiling has been alive and gaining under strength under our so called Elitist club in Pakistan…………they need to divide and make one another fight to achieve their dirty aims………….In Pakistani you can be racially profiled like a punjabee, pukhtun, mohajir, sindhi or baluchi…….then within mohajir you are classified as Bihari……or within Punjabee you can be classified as Rajput or Jaat………and within this you can also be classified as deobandi……wahabhi…….or other 70 sects……….This is the reality that stares us in the face………..all of the time……Recommend

  • Sherazi

    Raza Habib Raja .. hmm I’ll remember this name and face. Thanks for your picture, we have to remember him.Recommend

  • twister286

    It’s not about all Afghans being terrorists, and neither are they branded as such by and large. But we have every right to control who gets into Pakistan, and all undocumented, illegal entrants should be removed and repatriated back their countries of origin.Recommend

  • Ahson

    Can someone show me where and when there was this huge hue and cry in Pakistan on this muslim travel ban of Trump? Who was crying and who was protesting Trumps muslim ban in Pakistan? Show me the news?Recommend

  • ather khan

    first they indoctrinate our whole generation with extreme fanaticism through madrassas. used our youth as free proxy soldiers in afghanistan, kashmir. now suddenly they saw a need of u-turn and now blaming our whole community for being illicit with terrorism. if punjabis are truly concern about terrorism, first they need to shut down all the madrasas. it is proven that all the suicide bombers (especially those who were pahktuns/afghans) were indoctrinated in madrasas. in matter of 15 yrs, i can promise, pahktun society would be most progressive society in pakistan.Recommend

  • BEE K ben

    trump mission is ban muslims!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Sarah Farooqi

    So I think that Pakistanis are pretty racist. Having said that I think the analogy is wrong. The sentiment for Afghans in Pakistan would better compare to the problem Trump has with Mexicans (i.e. The porous border problem)Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    You are absolutely right. Pakistan was radicalising Afghanistan for its own financial benefits. Now they are crying.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Not quite. The Pashtuns are caucasians whereas the Punjbis are not with hindu ancestory!

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rohan

    What else can the punjabi establishment do ,they think everybody else is beneath them.This Is why the whole world looks at Pakistan (punjabi establishment) with derisionRecommend

  • Shumaila Mehdi

    warning notice in the column is NOT an Official warning…. its a fake letter …part of 5th generation war against the state…. presstitutes must show some maturity :/Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    haha libtards call it racial profiling

    on one hand they are terrorists in the making but on the other racial profiling is the biggest sin people should be staying away from

    pakistani libtards never fail to amuse me

    All terrorists are from Peshawar hence it makes sense to “racial profile ” people who are of that originRecommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    how do u know this? its all in your head
    long live nawaz and long live pak army and kashmirRecommend

  • Shayan Khan

    Law enforcement agencies should play their role to curb hate and revive love.Recommend

  • Shumaila Mehdi

    though the presstitute columnist have changed the immage of fake letter… i’m posting here warning in regard

  • Shumaila Mehdi

    and here the disclaimer of letter present in Asad Umar’s tweet
    Laholwalaquwata illa biLLah …look at the political wisdom of PTI’s leadership

  • Sane

    Such letters are fake. Indians are trying their utmost to impede CPEC, but they will not succeed.Recommend

  • Sane

    That was not partition of India. Muslims fought to have another country for them and Pakistan emerged. Hindus and British could not succeed to keep India intact. After some days Kashmir shall also be liberated.Recommend

  • Sane

    There are so many missions against Muslims. None shall succeed.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Pashtuns of Pakistan are the bravest, honorable, proud fighting arm of Pak.
    This is overstated. Their first loyalty is towrads their tribe and their culture!.

    Rex Minor .Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The USA has never had a ban on Muslims.

    Never mind whether the Trumpers had a muslim ban or the muslam countries ban, the results are that the evil forces have been unleashed in the American continent, Indians and blacks being targetted for hate crime and the jewish graves being vandalised.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    A very informative video; too bad that the local media was not allowed to witness the military operations in waziristan at the behest of the yankees, by destroying peoples dwellings on the pretext of chasing the so called talibans. One wonders as to how many of the readers understand the waziri language being spoken?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Shumaila Mehdi

    naaaaah their first loyalty is their faith, IslamRecommend

  • Sane

    If enemy use sword, then sword must be used. If gun, then there must be gun against. India needs reply in the same coin. Indians are full of hate against Pakistan and Hindus against Islam and Pakistan both. No peace talk will solve the problem or any mediation. Gun against gun is the only solution and with tactics India practices against Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Your comment is superfluous. Their tribe was born after and not before taking oath at the hands of the Prophet of God (pbuh). They are the descendents of Bibi moto and Batan who were the first to convert to Islam in the continent. Today they are the largest living tribe on this planet and have never been conquered in history.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    You have a valid point. Both Jinnah muslim league and Trumpers are divisioners and derisioners.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    I am from Peshawar, Lubna. Where are you from, Lahore? Would you say that your racial profiling would fit me?Recommend

  • Gul Ghazi

    Do you not know the atrocities and crimes against humanity have been committed in Waziristan and Kashmir?Recommend

  • Gul Ghazi

    Almost two generations with parents from Afghanistan were born in Pakistan. They are legally Pakistani by birth, by natural and constitutional law. What is your charge against them? What would you like to do to them?Recommend

  • twister286

    There’s still a sizeable number without due registration and documentation.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Yes. But they have the same rights to become legal Pakistanis, given official documentation. I don’t see any problem there.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Absolutely! The Hindus must be replied to in kind. Stop all border transit and trade with India as a first step.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    How is it law enforcement’s role? Their role is law enforcement. They are meant to catch the law breakers.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Pashtuns are Caucasians and Semites and more. Punjabi are very mixed too. Caucasians, Turks, Mughals, Persians, Greeks, Indians. Overall Pakistan has the most mixed races in the World.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Not true. Americans have declared war on Islam and Muslims. Persecution and threats.


  • Ghazi Gul

    His plans seem to go far beyond that. Includes the destruction of Pakistan and the Islamic World. That is the American Israeli Indian agenda anyway. Is it not?Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    yes it does. All terrorists come from Peshawar area. Is people’s safety less important to you than someone getting offended by racial profiling? shameRecommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    by India. Not Pakistan. how dare u blame pakistan for being a victimRecommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Your anger and passion is misplaced, Lubna. Perhaps more out of ignorance, not hate and malice. You should know that Pakistan has victimized its own citizens. It is afraid and bows down to Indian Hindus who are shooting its soldiers from across the LoC but has bombed its own civilians, innocent people of Waziristan using fighter jets.

    In fact Pakistan has committed unbelievable war crimes and crimes against humanity including the murder of little children and babies, even machine gunning pregnant woman and burning whole families in their homes using rockets, fragmentation munitions and napalm from the air. And heavy artillery on homes of unarmed villagers.

    Do you not know all this, Lubna?Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    “All terrorists come from Peshawar area”
    How can you make such an irresponsible statement. I am not, none of that. You don’t even know me. What if I called you some such thing? How would you feel if someone painted you with a similar broad brush? What if I painted you bad, evil?Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    i know that my country’s security is more important than my feelings so I would not be all hurt about it like you are being right now.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    It is not about feelings being hurt, Lubna. Why would I want to hurt your feelings. I have nothing against you. It is about the truth. You are not being told the truth. When you know it then you will be with me and not against me.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    please tell me the truth and gives its source as wellRecommend

  • LS

    Pakistan has nothing on kashmir. NOTHING.. The only way to keep people indoctrinated in fake propaganda is to not educate them and remove their capacity to critically analyze the situation.

    You are right, everyone who died was labelled as terrorist by the ISPR. Recommend

  • LS

    Fought? How.. All Jinnah did was beg for it… Regarding Kashmir you can dream on… 70 years is more than enough for you to take it but you could not… Another 7000 years will pass and you won’t be able to take it.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Thank you for your reply, Lubna. Tell me would photos be acceptable proof for you? BTW can you download videos, I can post them too if you want.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    im a master of all trades.
    give me all u gotRecommend

  • beach photos instagram

    Of course, as already mentioned, this does not mean that every Muslim is a terrorist and in fact thinking in such terms would be overstretching and overgeneralisation, resulting in bigotry if endorsed by the general populace and institutionalised discrimination if incorporated into laws by the state.Recommend