Jinnah’s Pakistan: Why Christians voted for Imran Khan

Published: August 3, 2018
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Pakistani Christians shout slogans during an anti-Taliban protest in Lahore, on March 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani Christians shout slogans during an anti-Taliban protest in Lahore, on March 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP Pakistani Christians shout slogans during an anti-Taliban protest in Lahore, on March 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

The minorities living in Pakistan have perhaps been more adversely targeted since 9/11, with them being harshly exploited by the majority on the basis of their religion. Brutal incidents against the Christian community in Pakistan have gained international media attention, but politicians who made many promises in the past to work equally hard for minorities conveniently forgot about their promises once obtaining a seat in the parliament.

Before Imran Khan turned towards politics with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), there were many famous politicians who made their party manifestoes in favour of the minority, just to grasp their attention and their vote. They pandered to us, but they ignored the role played by the Christian community in the development of Pakistan. We, the Christian youth of Pakistan, are fully aware of the game the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has played in the past to obtain the maximum votes from our areas.

This is not to rant against the PML-N or favour PTI; the only true endgame is seeing new and educated people in the parliament, which is a dire need to safeguard the rights of Pakistan’s minorities. In simple words, Pakistan’s minorities no longer want to try what we have already tested and what has repeatedly failed.

The leadership of all political parties must keep in mind the wish of our beloved founding father. Quaid’s Pakistan is a land where the state has no link with a person’s faith, and where people are free from oppression and enjoy their religious rights. After all, have we forgotten what Muhammad Ali Jinnah said in his famous August 11th speech?

You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.

We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.”

The ruling parties must thus select new and educated faces from minority groups; people who are determined and serious about the development of their communities, and not just their own family’s progression.

No one can deny the existence of pressure groups, which restrict and prevent those who try to work for the betterment of minorities in this country and create unbreakable hurdles to keep them silent and helpless. In many cases, perhaps due to lack of unity, jealousy or fear among leaders, even those who have some power to help minorities refuse to do so, saying,

“We are not elected by your votes, but selected by our party leaders.”

Thus they prefer to work only for the sake of their parties, instead of resolving the problems faced by the minorities.

So how can one build a new home using old bricks? Minorities today need strong voices in the legislature instead of voiceless ‘yes-men’ making a sham out of our democracy. We require bold and strong spokespersons that bring change keeping in mind bringing religious minorities into the mainstream, and this is where Imran fits best.

Imran believes we must ensure our minorities feel safe and are equally empowered as compared to the majority Muslim populace. The PTI also believes in a clear-cut ‘peace within, peace without’ policy, as stated by the Quaid himself.

Although Imran’s stance on certain matters may make us worry about being a minority, on the other hand, his party’s stance is that everyone will be treated equally under the eye of law, which makes me and others like me feel secure. And given that Imran’s first wife belonged to a minority group as well, offers a clear picture of how he feels about the equality of human beings, irrespective of their faith.

I am neither a fan of Imran’s looks nor his cricket, which my generation in particular is not familiar with. I simply support Imran because of the honesty with which he has made the promises he makes during his speeches and his rallies. Especially during his visit to Youhanabad this year, where he addressed the Christian community and said that minorities will get equal rights when PTI comes into power.

Shehbaz Sharif ruled Lahore for around 10 years – he must by now be familiar with the condition of Christians in Youhanabad. Yet he never bothered to visit the area. Imran is the only national leader after the Quaid himself who has visited the Christians of Youhanabad and addressed the problems of its people.

PTI also became the first party in Pakistan to reserve a seat to represent the Kalash community. This shows Imran is committed to bringing people from all across the country into its assemblies. Moreover, during their previous tenure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), PTI not only allotted scholarships for minority students, but also put a ban on the sale and purchase of properties belonging to the church. In one of the last jalsas of his election campaign at Walton Road, Lahore, Imran directly addressed the Christians of Pakistan and reminded them that his leader is Jinnah, and like him he is in favour of equal rights for minorities. Initiatives and actions such as these are what draw minority groups towards Imran and his PTI.

As a Christian, I am aware there is a history of broken promises when it comes to almost every Pakistani leader, as they use shallow campaign slogans which have only darkened the corridor and limited the path of opportunities for minority groups. But we are confident that this time the outcome will be different, and we choose to put our trust in Imran to deliver on the promises he has made. I am using the term ‘we’ because I believe I am speaking for many like me who spent the first vote of their life on Imran.

Overall, it seems as if things are improving for minorities in Pakistan, if only on the surface. There exists a political awareness today that didn’t exist earlier; so much so that people are celebrating the election of three Hindu candidates elected from Muslim majority areas on general seats in Sindh, with all three belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Krishna Kohli, a Thari woman from a remote village of Sindh, was also elected as a Senator on PPP’s ticket. All this shows that new leadership is considering the rights and representation of Pakistan’s minorities.

For us, it has felt as if every decade is worse than the last, with respect to the conditions of Pakistan’s minorities. False allegations of blasphemy against Christians alone have become common overtime. But today we have a lot of hope that Imran will not only truly address the issues we face, but also practically make Pakistan a better state for minorities, creating Jinnah’s Pakistan where we can learn to live together in peace again.

Cynthia Sohail

Cynthia Sohail

The author has a Masters in Political Science from the Kinnaird College for Women. She loves writing on politics and human rights issues, and tweets @cynthia_sohail (twitter.com/cynthia_sohail)

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

  • Cyrus Khan

    I’m totally against Discrimination, My self, My name is Cyrus which is of persian-greek origin but I’m of Pakistani origin and Muslim guy. I have a christian maid working with us for 4 years. I attended her daugher’s marriage function in Church invited by them, no one have any objection against me and my family even church guard, other unknown attendants, invitees and guests. many of people treated me as I’m VIP as no body have planned anything against muslim guests or have done any plan to kick off non christians. My favourite female musician in Pakistani is now a days Viccaji sisters(Zoe and Rachel).

    Even my friend’s sister got married to christian guy who now converted to Islam, friend’s sister attend her husband’s festivals sometimes and vice versa. My aunt(phuppo) lives in the christian colony(muslims also lives there too). My mom was Ismaili post marriage, she now converted to Sunni to be one sided but we still met to maternal relatives. I have my friend since 2011 who is christian making him first non muslim friend in my life.Recommend

  • Sri Krishna Bhagawan

    This > Even my friend’s sister got married to christian guy who now converted to Islam
    This > My mom was Ismaili post marriage, she now converted to Sunni to be one sided but we still met to maternal relatives
    and this > I have my friend since 2011 who is christian making him first non Muslim friend in my life.

    Wow! how liberalRecommend

  • Parvez

    When you said ” In simple words, Pakistan’s minorities no longer want to try what they have already tested and what has repeatedly failed “……you hit the nail on the head and this did not apply only to the minority…..it also applied to the majority who voted.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I feel that your heart is in the right place …… but a small word of advice, please do re-read what you have written and see if you are managing to get your message across …… if your comment is taken at face value then I have to agree with S.K. Bhagwan’s comment.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    The poor christian became the victim of fraud called Pakistan. Now the only jobs they find in Pakistan is that of gutter cleaners while in India, a Christian became head of one of the largest political party and another one even the defense minister.Recommend

  • Patwari

    At least he and his family are giving it a shot. And succeeding.
    Compared to Bharati Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi, paying Rs.400 to
    destitute starving Muslims, taking them to a mandir, forcing
    them to convert. Then TV time. [until the real truth came out]
    Oh! Forgot! Hanging Muslims for every perceived Gau Raksha
    incident. Stabbing Muslim teenage boys on trains. Checking
    Muslim womens’ grocery bags for beef. Then there is the Refrigerator
    Police. Killing teachers, professors, journalists, anyone who dares to
    speaks up against this Hindutva fever and ongoing Muslim Genocide in
    Hindustan. Killing Muslim farmers for transporting milk cows to their farms.
    Vigilantes roaming and harassing Muslims in every major Hinduland city
    with the blessings of Modi Sarkar.
    Harridan of Hate or shatru Sadhvi Prachi, pavitr yodhaa Yogi Adityanath, and the
    vidooshak Rawat who is C-in-C of Hindustani armed forces,… are considered
    icons now.
    This can go on for pages…Recommend

  • Patwari

    But, but, see er, it was a BJP wala who killed The Mahatma, Gandhiji.
    It was also the BJP walas led hindoo janasankhya that tore down Babari
    Mosque. With the help of Shiv Sena of course.
    The last Dilli elections saw the destruction of countless Christian churches
    in, where else, Dilli. to intimidate and prevent Christians from voting for Amm
    Admi Party. Arvind Kejriwal can you tell you all about it.
    How about the burning down of a Christian Cathedral in Maharashtra?
    Should we go into what the Bajrang Dals do to Christians? Want to go into
    Shiv Sena antics? [they also hate Christians, surprise, surprise]
    How about the Hindutva Philosophy? Hindustan is for Hindus only. The rest leave.Recommend

  • Vampire Assassin

    Of course, getting things out of context is nice way to understand stuff. You ignored what he wrote otherwise. Well done, Sir! you clearly proved how narrow minded a person can be. Do extend your horizon of wisdom, if you have any, and feel what people write instead of taking things out of context.

    And do get your definition of “Liberal” right. Its not about just accepting same gender marriages and relations but also supporting other religions as well and way of life of those followers.Recommend

  • Vampire Assassin

    Really?! You want to talk about how minorities are progressing in India? Really?

    Here we go then, genocides in Hyderabad, Tamil people banging doors for Independence from India, Khalistan is on the way, Mass killings in Kashmir(UN reports), Mass killings of Muslims in cow slaughter cases, etc.

    Yes, you really should be proud of being an Indian after what Hindus extremists keep doing to their minorities turning India into a state that itself sponsors rape, violence, murder, genocide of minorities. One minister, belonging to minority, having his mouth filled by the money does not show minorities are safe and sound in India. The world is not so stupid anymore. Time has changed.Recommend

  • AA

    If you have read this article critically, then should also pay attention to the author herself. Who she is, what is her qualification and her eloquent writing, then read your comment.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    I think you Pakistanis are living in your own make believe world and thus require rude awakening of facts from Indians
    So here we are
    1. Hyderabad is one of the most peaceful city in India with lots of IT giants running their global operations. There are no “genocides” happening there. You do not understand the world “Genocide”.

    2. Khalistan exists only in dimag of Pakistanis and few Canadian Sikhs. The movement died a long time back in India.

    3. Tamil asking for independence???? This is the most laughable statement ever. It is like Pakistan asking independence from Punjab.

    4. Mass killing IN Kashmir. Well, only those Kashmiris are being killed who are taking up weapon against state like TTP terrorists.
    5. You also need to find correct meaning of “mass killing”. Out of 200 million Muslims, at least few thousand needs to be died in ONE way attack to be called in mass killing. But as we know, most of the riots in India have started with Muslims instigating it and later playing a victim card.
    India is one of the SAFEST place for MUSLIMS. Look at your own country. You guys claim 70000 Muslims are killed in Pakistan in last 2 decades. Mosques are bombed etc. This never happened in India.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Ah poor you. Short of facts and lots of rant :). Then again, it is a typical behavior of a Pakistani. In 1948, there was no BJP :). So no BJP guy did not kill Gandhi. Babri Masjid was not even a Masjid. No one way praying there. It was just a structure standing there. Last Delhi election, AAP party for 67 seats out of 70 and that made Kejriwal CM of Delhi. There was not a single attack on Christians in Delhi. As for Bajrang Dal people, BJP has nothing to do with them. BY the way let me know what would happen to a Christian missionary if it tries to convert some Muslims to Christianity by offering them money etc. In fact don’t tell me. I know what would happen to them. Blasphemy and Gallows by the state. Your standards are too low to complain about India.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Godse belonged to RSS, right? So there. You have it.
    Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was there. Right? That is the
    mothership of all right wing extremists/terrorists in Hinduland.
    Nobody is really sure how many fanatic organisations were
    spawned by RSS. Or when they were born. Nobody is really sure
    how many of them avoided any connection to RSS just to avoid
    govt. scrutiny.
    You did not prove anything. RSS is Modi Sarkar’s alma mater.
    RSS amoeba just split itself into God known how many variations..
    One of them is BJP. Lord Modi’s personal Storm Troopers
    It was just a precurser to current day horror in Hindustan.Recommend

  • Patwari

    “Hyderabad is a peaceful city”…says you in your denial. The news say
    otherwise. Rampant systematic Muslim killings is genocide.
    “Khalistan”… the Hinduland ambassador wanted to visit a Sikh temple
    near Lahore. The visiting Sikh yatris from Bharat denied him entrance. Read Canadian news. They will tell you how massive the Khalistan Movement is in Canada, where the money comes from.
    What is going on in Hindustani Kashmir is pure and simple “GENOCIDE”
    Even the UN deems it so. Like all Hindus you are in denial.
    Should we go into Muslim villages set on fire in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam.
    Meghaleya? How about the indigenous genocide in Arunachal Pradesh?
    Say, want to discuss Kerala? Ladakh? [they want no Hindus governing them, at all.]Recommend