Stories about minority rights

If you don’t convert, I can’t work with you

 September 18, 2012 The past three months had been quite busy for me since I was working day and night researching a business venture. Being a new concept within the market, the prospects for the project were pretty high provided that it was carried out properly. However, I was short on the amount of funds required for the project. Eager and motivated to step into the world of business,  I contacted a friend who introduced me to his uncle who, in turn, showed interest in my project. His uncle was a retired senior government official and had sufficient experience of heading ...

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Blasphemy and minority plight: Pakistan is no different from Burma

As the rest of the country goes about its way, having just celebrated another joyous Eid, spare a thought for a little girl with special needs, languishing in a juvenile jail. She is probably all alone, and scared. With her condition, she very well might not even know the reason she is in there. But ask her neighbours, some who are frothing at the teeth to have a go at her, and they will tell you that she deserves to die. Rimsha Masih, an 11-year-old Pakistani girl of the Christian faith, who reportedly suffers from Down Syndrome, was arrested on allegations that she ...

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Have some mercy, Pakistan!

For 65 years, Pakistanis have struggled to agree on an identity that defines us as a nation. However, a sickening incident that occurred on Friday could serve as a reminder of the one thing no sane, literate person can question. An 11-year-old Christian girl in Islamabad was booked for blasphemy after being accused of burning a Noorani Qaida, a booklet used to familiarise children with Arabic as written in the Quran. The girl is believed to have Down Syndrome. While enough to explain and even forgive her for her actions if they are true, it did not save her or ...

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Revisiting the Gojra tragedy

Religious minorities are facing numerous hardships and increasing insecurity in Pakistan. According to an official report, over 96% of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, the remaining consisting of religious minorities such as Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyas, Parsis, Buddhists and Sikhs.  One such incident of religious violence against the minorities is the Gojra incident; when a group of Muslims in 2009 set the establishments on fire and looted the Catholic church in the Gojra district of Toba Tek Singh. Eight Christians were killed as a result of this incident, while many were injured. Later, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan released a report which stated that ...

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How Pakistan got boxed into religion

The National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) refusal to change MPA Rana Mahmood’s religion from “Islam” to “Christianity” has many boxed in. A plethora of questions have arisen. Is this a human rights violation? Will Mahmood be considered an apostate if his records were to reflect that he left Islam? How can you change someone’s faith with a stroke of a pen? But no one is talking about the real question: Why do we have a “religion box” on our legal documents anyway? Say that and you essentially open Pandora’s Box. After all, in a 97% Muslim majority country, what good can ...

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Zaid Hamid: Treason against reason

Two statements have been circulating in my head for the last few days. The first one is by George Orwell: In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act. The second is a piece of poetry by revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz: Nisar teri galiyo pe ae watan kay jahan, Chali hai Rasm kay koi na sarr utha kay chalay. Jo Koi Chahnay Wala Tawaaf ko Niklay, Nazar Jhuka kay Chalay, Jism o Jaan Bacha Kay Chalay. (My salutations to thy sacred streets, O beloved nation! Where a tradition has been invented- that none shall walk with his head held high, If at all one takes ...

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A disappointed Pakistani Christian

Dear Pakistani Muslims, Pakistan has been hell for my family and I. Yes, we get Christmas and have a few churches here and there and attend the same schools as the rest of you, but life as Christian minorities has been torture for us. I had to carpool  in a public van to a convent school that had the richest and most influential of Pakistani Muslims in attendance. I shared class rooms with the most spoilt and unforgiving spawn of business tycoons, politicians, smugglers and architects who called me a “karanti”. A karanti is a derogatory, slang term for dark Christians, because of course ...

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What kind of Pakistani life do you lead?

Hello everyone, long time no see! I’ve been mulling over all that has been happening in Pakistan over the last year and it got me to thinking, its about time I tried my hand at writing a quiz a little more all-encompassing than the Desi elite political identity quiz (though do take that if you haven’t already). The big question: what kind of Pakistani life do you lead, should hopefully provide you with some perspective on whether things are looking up (or down) for you, not to mention give you bragging rights with your peers. Keep score, keep calm and leave your results ...

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Will I ever be a Pakistani?

During the cricket World Cup in 2011, many who knew that I am a Hindu, including some of my colleagues, asked me who I would support; India or Pakistan. The question was very irritating and annoyed me to the point that I would lose my temper. I didn’t understand why on earth they would ask me such a stupid question – just because I’m Hindu? Why isn’t the same question asked of a Christian when Pakistan plays against Australia, England or New Zealand? Despite the fact that this state was created with a pledge by the father of the nation for ...

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Salmaan Taseer in Kafka’s Pakistan

“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.” Thus begins Franz Kafka’s novella masterpiece Metamorphosis. The novel inhabits the familiar bizarre frame of Kafka’s work, of a world where the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a giant insect-like creature elicits hardly any surprise from Samsa’s family and associates, or indeed from Samsa himself. Samsa spends no time pondering his metamorphosis, why it may have occurred or how the process may be reversed. He busies himself instead with mundane concerns, and immediately upon his transformation spends an inordinate amount of ...

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