The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Minority treatment in Pakistan | A case of discrimination and exclusion

with 3 comments

The national flag of Pakistan has been reduced to little more than a piece of cloth and a splatter of paint, over the years — just as the dreams it once represented, have lost their inspiration and verve. The white space on the flag, signifying the religious minorities in Pakistan, has diminished day-by-day where as the green, denoting Muslim majority, has continued to accrue deeper shades. Unfortunately, the flag and its changing hues are the least of our problems. The problem is not just the constriction of the political space in which the minorities are allowed to operate — our problem is the treatment with which we grace our fellow countryman and how it is, intrinsically, linked to our perception of that person, his community or fellowship — our problem is that the whites of our flag have fallen dim.

The political space, supposed to be legitimately that of religious minorities, has virtually ceased to exist. We, as a Muslim majority nation, have convinced ourselves that we are the only target of all oppression, western or otherwise — that there are conspirators behind every shadow — that everyone in the world is out to get our, proverbial, goat and that anyone who is not Muslim is a de facto ally of our perceived enemies. This is why we choose to punish our minorities for crimes that they haven’t committed.

Minorities in Pakistan, today, enjoy a whole range of ‘rights’, be it the talibanised form which gives them a ‘right’ to choose between death or conversion or the more enlightened and civilised one which allows them the ‘right’ of absolute authority over picking the colour of their own, personal and separate tableware, but little else.

These minorities are disenfranchised economically — by disallowing them access to respectable jobs or only allowing them access to menial ones. They are oppressed politically by being systemically denied any real voice on any public forum. The voices that do represent them come from throats attached to people as, socially, distanced from a poor Christian or pitiable Hindu as a capitalist is from an ordinary worker. They are broken, culturally, by having their places of worship turned into warehouses or shops of the very items that those particular religions prohibit.

It is not without merit that we are ranked high on the Amnesty International’s list of countries with endangered minorities — and how we strive, tirelessly, to safeguard this mantle of ‘honour’.

In this way a new culture emerges, a culture of the oppressed; a culture which transcends all religions, castes, creeds or identities. This culture links every member of Pakistan’s minorities with every other member of the same. This is our gift to our fellow Pakistanis; those who worked and toiled with us to define the Pakistan that we live in today; those whose ancestors gave just as many sacrifices as ours in the ‘good’ fight — our gift to those who bear the burden of our country just as much as we do, if not more.

It is from such cultures that new voices emerge – voices laced with the anguish and pain that is felt by members of those communities. Such a voice is the Human Right’s Monitor’s 2007 Report on Religious Minorities in Pakistan. It gives factual details regarding the persecution felt by religious minorities in Pakistan. It gives details of individual cases involving families or communities who have been wronged in the name of religion, sex or class.

It is high time that we, as the Muslim majority of Pakistan, come to realise the needs and aspirations of our fellow non-Muslim Pakistanis — that we come to appreciate the pain that we have caused them through our planned and malicious ill-treatment of the minorities; otherwise we will be forced to mourn the day when, there will be no need of any whites in our flag.


Written by redtribution

September 4, 2007 at 4:33 pm

3 Responses

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  1. This is a very intriquing article which falls in line with what I beleive is happeing in Pakistan right now. I believe that there is a cultural genocide happening in the country and it seems like very few people actually realize this. Everything from indiginous languages to indiginous religions and cultures are all slowly starting to erode. Minority elements such as those mentioned above and in your article are what add colour to a country but it is quite sad to see this colour run into oblivion, leaving the country void of its true nature. I am glad to see at lease someone recognizing the flight of the minorities in Pakistan.
    -Mast Malang


    September 5, 2007 at 7:58 pm

  2. Mr. Mastmalang,

    I am thankful for your kind consideration of my article. However, I would also like to state that I believe that if indigenous languages or cultures or religions erode because of the willful act or choice of those concerned indigenous people then it is perfectly ok. I believe this because it is, as mentioned before, the right and choice of the concerened minorities.

    However, I am vehemently against the forceful elimination of such languages or cultures based purely upon the tyranny of those in power. This is because the dynamic now is very different.

    In the first case the elimination of such languages and religions comes about due to a change in the objective conditions of society – the elimination merely a result of the people of minorities adapting to the new environment.

    In the second case it is the result of a purely subjective decision taken by people without regard for Human Rights and conventions.

    THAT is truly sad and unfortunate.

    Again, thank you for your comment.

    In Solidarity,
    Mobeen Chughtai.


    September 14, 2007 at 12:39 am

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