Per­se­cu­tion of mi­nori­ties is de­spi­ca­ble

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Mo­ham­mad Jamil Email: mjamil1938@hot­mail.com

IN

me­dia, there are sto­ries and ar ticles about per­se­cu­tion of Chris tians in Chak 44 of Mandi Ba­haud­din af­ter a young Chris­tian man was ac­cused of watch­ing a blas­phe­mous video on his cell phone. Ac­cord­ing to the Chris­tian res­i­dents, lo­cal Mus­lims de­mand that the com­mu­nity hands over the ac­cused to them, so that they may burn him alive in front of the church. They say these are not hol­low threats, as it had hap­pened be­fore in Kot Radha Kis­han, where a Chris­tian cou­ple was beaten and burned alive in a brick kiln. Of course, per­se­cu­tion of mi­nori­ties is con­demnable any­where in the world; how­ever in Is­lamic Repub­lic of Pak­istan, it is re­spon­si­bil­ity of the govern­ment to pro­tect the lives of its cit­i­zens ir­re­spec­tive of their faith, sect, creed or re­li­gion. How­ever, some writ­ers with pen­chant for self-flag­el­la­tion are blow­ing the is­sue out of pro­por­tion.

In one na­tional daily, a writer stated: “To­day, I feel ashamed to call my­self a Pak­istani. I am ashamed be­cause I have let my fel­low coun­try­men down. I say this be­cause I have not done any­thing to pro­tect more than 300 of my fel­low Pak­ista­nis liv­ing in Chak 44 of Mandi Ba­haud­din. I feel re­spon­si­ble be­cause I have al­lowed a bunch of fa­nat­ics to claim my faith as their own, and al­lowed them to force 300 mem­bers of a mi­nor­ity faith into hid­ing for some­thing that they have not done.” The writer then quoted that a Mus­lim man named Sadiq Khan was elected as Lon­don City Mayor, not re­al­iz­ing that it was ac­knowl­edge­ment of what Pak­ista­nis con­trib­uted to Bri­tain and not out of gen­eros­ity of the Bri­tish. Oth­er­wise also, the com­par­i­son be­tween the de­vel­oped coun­tries and Pak­istan is ir­rel­e­vant, as the for­mer have had col­o­nized and plun­dered Asian, African and Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries.

One should look at the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted and geno­cide of Mus­lims in for­mer Yu­goslavia. The Ser­bians had con­ducted geno­cide against Bos­ni­ans liv­ing in the ar­eas un­der their con­trol. As early as May 1992, they had be­gun seg­re­ga­tion be­tween Mus­lims and Croats in north­west Bos­nia and send­ing Mus­lims to con­cen­tra­tion camps. The most fa­mous camp was called Omarska in North­east Bos­nia. The pris­on­ers in the camp were beaten, de­nied food and wa­ter, housed in hor­rific con­di­tions, sex­u­ally as­saulted, tor­tured, and fi­nally killed. In Trnopolje, in a women camp, the women were reg­u­larly raped by po­lice and army per­son­nel. These ac­tions caused a mass ex­o­dus of Mus­lims out of North­west Bos­nia. Out of an ini­tial pop­u­la­tion of 550,000 Mus­lims and Croats, by June 1994 fewer than 50,000 re­mained in their homes. Can’t the learned writer see com­par­i­son be­tween the geno­cide there and a few events hap­pen­ing in Pak­istan?

Look what is hap­pen­ing in In­dia, where Chris­tians were killed, women were raped and their churches were torched. In Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir, more than 90000 peo­ple have been killed since 1989 and ac­cord­ing to con­firmed re­ports women were raped, and youth killed that re­sisted In­dian mil­i­tary. Why, the crit­ics in Pak­istan can’t see the geno­cide and atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by the above coun­tries? It is not the in­ten­tion here to gloss over per­se­cu­tion of mi­nori­ties in Pak­istan, but to point out that those who start blam­ing Pak­istan and its Mus­lim ma­jor­ity for their fail­ure to stop the fa­nat­ics should their voice for atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted on Mus­lims in other coun­tries. Is­lam en­joins upon the Mus­lims to re­spect the Mi­nori­ties and never harm their places of wor­ship; let them per­form their ri­tu­als and let them lead their life ac­cord­ing to their faith.

As re­gards sta­tus of mi­nori­ties in Pak­istan, there are scores of peo­ple from the mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties who held high posts in the govern­ment and civil ad­min­is­tra­tion. It has to be men­tioned that a Chris­tian, Jus­tice A.R. Cor­ne­lious was the fourth Chief Jus­tice of Pak­istan. Then we had Jus­tice Bhag­wan Das - a Hindu, who had been a Supreme Court Judge since Fe­bru­ary 2000 for over a decade, and be­came act­ing CJP dur­ing ju­di­cial cri­sis in Pak­istan in 2007. Ear­lier, he per­formed his du­ties as act­ing chief jus­tice of Pak­istan when then CJP Iftikhar Muham­mad Chaudhry went on for­eign tours in 2005 and 2006. He also worked as the chair­man of Fed­eral Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan. Many Chris­tians have ren­dered meritorious ser­vices in Pak­istan Air Force. Group Cap­tain Ce­cil Chaudhry (Si­tara-e-Ju­rat) was a Pak­istani aca­demic, hu­man rights ac­tivist, and vet­eran fighter pi­lot.

As a Flight Lieu­tenant, he fought in the Indo-Pak­istani war of 1965, and later as a Squadron Leader in the Indo-Pak War of 1971. An­other Chris­tian, Wing Com­man­der Mervyn Les­lie Mid­dle­coat was a Pak­istan Air Force fighter pi­lot who was awarded Si­tara-e-Ju­rat for his de­vo­tion to duty and val­our. There are scores of non-Mus­lims who have fought shoul­der to shoul­der with Pak­istan mil­i­tary, but the space of this col­umn does not al­low giv­ing de­tails of those he­roes. In Pak­istan, mi­nori­ties are equal cit­i­zens of the state, as en­vi­sioned by Quaide-Azam, and have been lead­ing their lives ac­cord­ing to their faiths. De­spite dif­fer­ences over in­ter­pre­ta­tion and nu­ances, all sects of Mus­lims re­spected each other’s views. In fact, ex­trem­ism es­ca­lated since 1980s, when the US started sup­port­ing Afghan ji­had, and many mil­i­tant and fa­natic re­li­gious groups emerged.

The mil­i­tants want to im­pose their ver­sion of Is­lam, which is at vari­ance with the great ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple, who de­spise the ter­ror­ists whether they kill Mus­lims or non-Mus­lims. Some mis­guided el­e­ments at­tacked peo­ple be­long­ing to mi­nori­ties, but the loss of life was a very small frac­tion of the Mus­lims mar­tyred by the ter­ror­ists in Pak­istan since the War on Ter­ror started. In­ci­dent such as Go­jra was a source of pain and agony to the true fol­low­ers of Is­lam, since Is­lam ad­vo­cates tol­er­ance, love and peace. Last year, mem­bers of the Se­nate’s Func­tional Com­mit­tee on Hu­man Rights had en­dorsed the move to crim­i­nal­ize forced re­li­gious con­ver­sions and to pre­vent mis­use of the blas­phemy law. By re­fer­ring to the plight of mi­nori­ties in other coun­tries, it is not the in­ten­tion to down­play the in­ci­dents like Go­jra and Radha Krishan, but to in­vite the at­ten­tion of ‘sen­si­tive, writ­ers to high­light what is hap­pen­ing around the world. —The writer is a se­nior jour­nal­ist based in La­hore.

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