Stories about religious minorities

The acceptance of one religion’s festival is not an affront on the sanctity of another

His five-year-old clutched the window of the passenger seat as he eagerly looked out the window of the taxi. The church towers loomed up as the taxi turned the corner. Kissing the top of his head, Yusuf shifted his son towards him and patted his hair down. Thick silence emanated from the back of the rather dilapidated cab where his mother and young wife sat huddled together. He stole a glance at his fuming mother who sat in disapproving silence. Sighing, Yusuf shifted his gaze to his doe-eyed wife. She sat as precariously on the car seat as a ...

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Modi’s visit to the US is not as warm as it looks

From holding the title of the first person to be denied US visa and prohibited from entering US soil for nearly 10 years for his deliberate inaction in stopping the Gujarat massacre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has certainly come a long way, judging by the warm welcome awarded by the Obama administration. His previous record of being a ‘severe violator of religious freedom’ has been conveniently shrouded with diplomatic immunity as he conducts flurry of meetings with American statesmen, prominent Indian Americans, and heads of Fortune 500 companies and tech corporations. Pakistani anchor Dr Shahid Masood hit the nail on the head when he compared Modi ...

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Dear Senate, instead of new legislations, how about implementing the old ones?

What are thou going to do today, my lord? I am going to protect minorities in Pakistan. And how would thou protect minorities, my lord? By making new laws! But what about the old laws, my lord? Hmm, they are old and obsolete. How would thou save the new laws, my lord, from becoming obsolete? For that I need to form a committee! Recently, a Senate committee got together to discuss a fresh piece of legislation to help protect the religious minorities in Pakistan. After the killings of 1,456 Hazaras in Balochistan over a period of seven years and other minorities in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the Senate committee on human ...

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Is Dr Ghazanfar being sacked because of his refusal to conform to nepotism?

Internationally, and definitely not nationally, the following news has created utter shock and disdain amongst people. In between baking under the scorching July sun and the long Eid holidays enjoyed by families, the head of our home has been told to leave. I hope that by now you understand that I refer to Aitchison as my home and losing a trusted person from one’s family is unimaginable and the pain is immense. Dr Agha Ghazanfar, an Oxford graduate who spent 12 years at Aitchison as a student himself, and was a principal at the institute, has officially been sacked from his position as the principal of Aitchison ...

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Should he stay silent just because he is a Hindu MNA in a Pakistani National Assembly?

Lal Malhi’s one minute and thirteen seconds on the National Assembly floor this past week summed up more than just the ignorance of our elected representatives; it spoke to an alarmingly prevalent disregard for our Hindu citizens. That not all Hindus are Indian and that not all Indians are Hindu seems too complex a concept for most of us. If only these despicable “Hindu ga’ay ka pujari” (Hindus are cow-worshippers) slogans were an anomaly. Earlier this month, the hammer-wielding Lutf Lashari destroyed five idols in Durga Shiv Mandir (the story eerily broke in a very Fox News “let-me-tell-you-how-this-man-was-mentally-ill” style). Malhi also called attention to forced conversions: ...

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We need to stop exaggerating minority victimhood in India and Pakistan

I had written in an article on this very forum some time back that many Indians and Pakistanis validate their deep-rooted nationalist prejudices by exaggerating the problems of the religious minorities on the other side of the border. As an Indian, I have written articles informing my fellow countrymen that Pakistan has had a Christian Chief Justice, Justice Cornelius, and he remains one of their most respected judges till date, and the tiny Zoroastrian community in Pakistan, like its Indian counterpart, has produced many remarkable personalities, including prominent judges. These include Justice Dorab Patel, who has also served as chief justice, and Justice Rustam S Sidhwa who ...

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‘Modi is the best thing to happen to India’ – Think again

Interacting with the Indian diaspora in Shanghai and Seoul recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi boasted that his countrymen world-over feel proud of their Indian origin ever since he has become the prime minister of the country. In his address to non-resident Indians (NRIs), he added that it was a moment of shame to be an Indian before his assumption of power in Delhi. Such churlish and insulting statements by the Indian leadership at a foreign soil drew large scale condemnation both inside and outside India. Modi would like the world to believe that he is the best thing to happen ...

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There is zero tolerance for hate speech in Pakistan, even if you are a cleric!

Recently, an anti-terrorism court set a precedent by sentencing a prayer leader belonging to Kasur for five years of imprisonment. Maulana Abubakar was convicted of delivering anti-Shia hate speech during his sermon. He openly declared Shias to be “infidels”. In the last few months, over 4,000 individuals were arrested for similar offences while 21 have been convicted in Punjab for delivering hate speech, with some of them jailed for up to eight years. I am not going to refer to this man as a ‘qari’ in this blog, for a ‘qari’ is expected to be a respectful man who is dutiful towards his religion, actions and sermons. No one ...

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Today, one week later, we still mourn

Never in my wildest thoughts did I ever imagine that my eyes would leak like an open tap of water when writing a story about brutal murder. I was a reporter, after all. I had seen the worst and reported on things people wouldn’t bare to imagine. But this time was different.  When we first start reporting, we are taught to keep our own biases and opinions out of our stories. Under no circumstance are we to get involved. Objectivity is key, they taught us. This time, it was personal. Two days earlier, a friend of mine asked me why I don’t ...

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Are we not ‘Pakistani’ enough for them or are we not ‘Muslim’ enough?

I got to work and checked my phone; there were a dozen missed calls and messages from my friends and family – all in a span of 30 minutes. Being a Karachiite, I instantly knew something was wrong. As soon as I read my father’s message, I froze. I was stunned at the words before me. An attack had taken place and this time it was our community. 45 of our people. We were no longer the silent observers. We were the victims. When I reached my cubicle, I could hear news of the attack blaring from multiple TV screens. I sat and watched news ...

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