Unity in difference


I am writing this letter to bring to your attention the issue of increasing intolerance in Pakistan. Pakistan has a lot of diversity in terms of ethnicity and the major ethnic groups include Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, Muhajirs, Baloch, Hindkowans, Chitralis and other smaller groups. Moreover, there is religious plurality as well. Social, ethnic and cultural differences that exist in Pakistan hamper harmonious coexistence of these diverse groups.

Recent events throw light on the increasing antagonism between these groups. Karachi has become the centre of ethnic tension. This year hundreds of innocent people were killed because of political and ethnic differences between the the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party (ANP) and the Urdu speaking MQM, which has considerable influence in Pakistan’s largest city.

Sectarian violence has reached new heights. One of the gruesome events took place on September 2011 when gunmen opened fire on a bus carry pilgrims at Mastung in Balochistan province. At least 26 Shia Muslims were killed in that incident.

Shia-Sunni conflicts were fuelled by Zia’s Islamisation policy and the clashes have only increased ever since, taking lives of hundreds of innocent people. Minority religious groups have also been a target of sectarian violence. There has been a rampant increase in the kidnapping of Hindus in Balochistan. The provincial minister of minority, Jay Parkash Lal, has raised voice against this issue but no serious action has been taken to resolve the problem.

These are but a few examples of the assaults that occur in our society because of plurality and diversity. Attention must be paid to this grave problem as ethnic violence can lead to major constitutional upheavals and collapse of the state in the long run. Attitudes such as racism, practices such as torture and discrimination of various groups need to be acknowledged as morally wrong and unjust by the people.