Stories about minorities

Reconstitution of a secular Pakistan

The past has contradicted the present. In his famous speech of 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, “Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims – not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual – but in the political sense as citizens of the State.” The excerpt bears witness that Pakistan was destined to be a land where religious identities are subsumed into the fabric of unity, let alone one where religious minorities are discriminated against. “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law”, is ...

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A Pakistan I wish I knew

Days like August 14 and September 6 invoke positive emotion for Pakistan and yet, I’ve grown up listening to things absent from the motherland. The oft-repeated expression “Oh what a country it was” makes me wonder and imagine, and then I sit down to hear the fairy tale. According to my father, Pakistani society was beautifully knit, so much so that people from different religions — what to talk of various sects of the same religion — lived in perfect harmony. They would celebrate each other’s festival and jointly participate in all types of communal activities. Eid, Christmas, Rabiul Awal and ...

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Are we to be blamed for Rimsha?

Qari Khalid Chishti is caught in the same trap that he had initially set for a minor Christian girl — which was intended as a tool against the Christian community in his area. The unexpected backfiring of this case seems to garner hope that Rimsha Masih will receive justice. The widespread reaction of religious scholars against Chishti’s actions is new hope for all citizens and for minorities, in particular, who feel insecure at the hands of such elements that misuse the blasphemy law. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are based on British colonial laws dating from 1860 and were amended in the 1980s ...

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A reminder: Sanitation workers are human beings

It is World Coconut Day on September 2, a day to, “Propagate the importance of this tree and to make people aware about the benefits of the fruit”. While the day is also meant to remind people about people whose livelihoods depend on the fruit, rising salary demands from fruit pickers have left much of the global industry looking at alternative farming methods. In India and Thailand, monkeys are a popular alternative. They work cheap (mostly for bananas), don’t need uniforms (or any clothes for that matter), and according to studies, are five times as effective as human pickers. The monkeys ...

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Would Jinnah, a Shia, also have to leave the country he founded?

August 15 marked the completion of 65 years since our country came into existence. Yes, it was August 15 and not August 14, however, we officially celebrate our independence day on the 14th. The Pakistan we see today is not the Pakistan envisaged by the founders of this country. There were a lot of mishaps surrounding the birth of this country as it faced a pre-mature labour. Short-sightedness on the part of leaders of the Pakistan Movement coupled with the intrigue that arose by the parting Britishers resulted in a country that was in shambles as soon as it came ...

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Will the fear ever end, or will I have to pick up a gun too?

The last six months have seen over 50 Shias killed in three bus attacks, while the overall numbers are much higher if incidents of targeted attacks on Shias in war-torn Parachinar and the rest of FATA, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan are included. For the Shia community in Islamabad, a sizeable share of which is from G-B, dinner table conversation over the Eid weekend focused directly on a worrying ‘what-if’ scenario, namely, the possibility of a militant Shia response to the violence and the fallout from such violence. This is not a recent change. Three years back, an attack on an imambargah ...

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August 14: Celebrate for what?

A cricketing hero in his capacity as the brand ambassador of a mobile network company is telling the youth of this nation that, “Kion kay ajj agar hum dobara jhanday lehrana shuru kardain toh yaqeenan jhanday garna bhi shuru kerdain gay” (If we start waving our flags today  then definitely we will once against start hoisting our flags every where.) An advertisement well-made indeed. Good drama that touches that ever so sensitive and emotional patriotic chord in our hearts, making us believe that just by being Pakistanis we are the greatest nation in the world. I was even tempted to buy another mobile ...

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Let’s paint our flag green, we don’t deserve white

Have you ever been so severely bullied in school that changing your section or your school seemed like the only way to escape the torture your peers had you under? If you haven’t, feel blessed. If you have, I guess I need not explain how humiliating and belittling the experience is. It has you living in constant terror, bile slowly rising up your throat when the bully emerges; it can make you beg and plead for mercy; it can even make you wet your pants. For a bullied student, the solace that probably keeps him/her sane is that he gets to ...

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10 things Pakistanis hate to hear

One of the biggest disadvantages of living in a nation as homogeneous as ours is that it is very seldom that you get to hear alternative narratives on history, religion, culture and society in general. People who try and present narratives that are different from the main stream are labelled as agents, heretics or even worse, traitors. Here I have made a list of ten things that average Pakistanis just don’t want to hear. 1. America and Israel cannot be blamed for all the miseries of the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in particular. For a country that was hand in ...

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Maya Khan and the barbaric arrogance of fundamentalism

It is apparently not enough anymore to discriminate against religious minorities in our laws or to attack their houses of worship or places of residence in random, unprovoked acts of violence. People like Maya Khan now want to use the few remaining religious minorities in the country for entertainment too. Many publications have rightly pointed out that the televised conversion of a Hindu man named Sunil to Islam was an act that was incredibly insensitive to religious minorities in a country where forced conversions and abductions are far too common. But I have a far deeper problem with just the ...

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