Stories about minorities

Why I am not voting in the Pakistan elections

Pakistan is having a moment. It is a moment similar to the pre-Obama days in the US. The furore of fantasy is building and hearts are beating wildly. Everyone is joining in this frenzied support for PTI. Perhaps, it is the mob mentality we as a nation are susceptible to, perhaps it is simply fashionable to join the many that have picked Imran Khan to represent them. Or perhaps there really is something there, a real chance, a future. Change is in the air. There is movement, there is excitement. I feel none of it. What I feel instead, as I ...

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Because as I see it, democracy has already won

“Bijli nahe hay, stability nahe hay, business nahe chal sakta, security nahe hay…Hum laaton ke bhoot, baaton se nahe maanain gay. Yahan democracy nahe chal sakti. We need a stronger force, a dictator to rule us.” (There is no electricity or stability here, businesses cannot work, and there is lack of security…we can’t be talked into working, we need to be beaten to do it. Democracy cannot work here. We need a stronger force, a dictator to rule us.) “But, we are new to the process. Har cheez main time lagta hay (everything takes time); maybe if we sacrifice today, our ...

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Elections 2013: Did you forget about minorities?

With election season in full swing, political parties have set their stages for the May 11 battle. The media lens has shifted its focus from ‘who has been qualified or disqualified for being saadiq and ameen’, on the pretext of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution, ‘to the coverage of corner meetings and campaigning of different political parties’. Unfortunately, none of the parties have anything attractive enough in their manifestos to appeal to the non-Muslim voters. All the parties have been singing the same mantra of equal rights, equal representation and equal treatment as shown by all our news channels. It baffles my ...

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In India, you are free to go to your mosques and temples

India, like most developing countries, has a host of problems ranging from corruption and poverty to female foeticide. Fortunately though, religious intolerance is not on this list of issues that ail India. While there’s no denying the fact that India has, in the past, witnessed incidents of religious rioting, it still remains a country that is home to people of various faiths whose lives remain inextricably intertwined with each other – as classmates at university, colleagues at the workplace and as neighbours living in close proximity to each other. (A mosque next to a Church in India) I’ve written a blog about Diwali/Hinduism ...

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The sharks have tasted blood

Nowadays, if you have a personal grudge to settle or a fight to pick, make it about religion and you can muster a sizeable little army to do your job for you. What’s more, you and your cronies are likely to get away with it; and that too, scot-free. Even our newish baptism in judicial activism and public lip-service to outrage, isn’t likely to wake our slumbering giant of a government to pin you down and charge you. After all, we still don’t know who was responsible for Gojra, and we definitely won’t know who instigated the mob in the ...

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Pakistan doesn’t deserve its Christian community

The year 2009 saw a series of attacks on the Christian community in Gojra that left eight dead and many vulnerable and scared for their lives. 40 houses and a church were set ablaze by an angry mob and the police watched despite the residents begging for protection. Again this week, an angry mob around 3,000 strong attacked a Christian community in search of a particular blasphemer, Sawan Manish who, was already captured and in custody since Friday. These young men – again not surprisingly – in front of the police expressed their rage and caused hundreds of Christians pain they never thought they could ...

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Where was the tear gas when Joseph Colony burned?

I am sitting at the news desk silently taking in all the news reports of protests across Pakistan over the mob burning of more than 150 houses of Christians in Joseph Colony over alleged blasphemy. “Protesters on Ferozepur road Lahore have smashed a Metrobus office…a large contingent of police charge protesters using tear gas. Suspects being picked up.” “Protesters in Saddar Karachi have clashed with police…security officials resorting to aerial firing and tear gas shelling. Laathi charge underway. Over 20 arrested so far.” To see such police efficiency when faced by an enraged crowd is…ironic isn’t it? Where was this efficiency when the ...

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Say yes to Valentine’s day

There is no better indicator to how little Pakistan has done to prevent the nation slipping down the extremism rabbit hole than the increasingly visible outcry against Valentine’s day. Back in the 90s, nobody was concerned with the celebration of Valentine’s day. The general population was unaware of the event, and the few who knew went their merry way with chocolates, cut-out hearts, red balloons and the hope of securing a date or making a loved one feel special. The 2000s have, however seen each Valentine’s day turn increasingly into an ideological battleground between the forces of extremism out to score ...

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Bitter expats, you give Pakistan a bad name!

It is an interesting fact that most Pakistanis become more patriotic after leaving the country. It’s oxymoronic unto itself that they leave the country hating it in order to love it again having reached foreign shores. I have no contention with them, seeing that I, too, belong to this group.  I do however have a problem with some expats who badmouth and spread negative views about Pakistan and its inhabitants. A couple of days ago a friend of mine who’s not a Pakistani but an Australian of Greek descent was describing to me in detail the horrors inflicted on Karachiites ...

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From Tahrir Square to MA Jinnah Road

Friday Dec 14, 2012; on a night unusually cold for Karachi’s standards, more than 50 thousand people decided to join a sit-in protest against the ongoing Shia genocide in Pakistan. I was one of them. After being stuck in several traffic jams I eventually reached MA Jinnah road (named after the country’s founding father whose own personal religious affiliation is ironically debated time after time). The crowd grew from a few hundred to thousands in a matter of hours. Later that night, the cosmopolitan experienced an unannounced strike but that didn’t stop the protesters from growing in numbers. What ...

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