All parties court their electorate, and minorities are part of the electorate
This month six Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) pipelines were blown up in Balochistan; otherwise, a pipeline has been blown up every month over the past three months, proving that terrorists, like mobs, possess passion, not brains. All told, this society appears to be given up to self destruction, and not only where fuel is concerned; the people of Pakistan themselves, every way you look at them, are destroying themselves.
Pakistan had a diverse ethnic population at the time of Partition. Aside from the mainstream Muslims, Sunni and Shia, Christians, Hindus, Baha’is, Ahmadis, Parsis, and even Jews lived here, and were meant to continue living here. But, like the country’s other resources, these minorities were ill-managed. So, even from among the Muslims who think they have first rights to Pakistan, many Shias, have migrated for reasons of personal security while a merciless genocide is being conducted against the Hazaras. It is a tremendous loss, because like any other resource, diversity fuels progress, and enriches the culture it exists in, as in the US.
On the eve of elections, there has been a predictable escalation of violence. The ANP, PPP and the MQM, considered ‘more secular’ (read ungodly) by terrorist organisations appear to be the favoured targets, along with some independent candidates. A spokesperson of the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (easier on the tongue when called the TTP, but never easily swallowed), declared his party’s ‘indifference’ to the PTI, PML-N, JI and JUI-F, saying that targeting those others was the decision of his party’s Shura (they love these Arabic terms and use them to label their institutions; others with similar functions are BAD because they have non-Arabic names, such as the dreadful, democratic, secular, satanic parliaments.)
There were about 1,500 Jews in Karachi and Peshawar at the time of Partition, but there is now only a mention of a Pakistani Jew living somewhere in Israel.
Approximately a million Hindus are the largest minority in Pakistan, mostly in Sindh, closely followed by the Christians. There are only about six thousand Pakistani Sikhs.
The former Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice A R Cornelius and Cecil Chaudhry, of the Pakistan Air Force, belonged to these communities.
Parsis, never a large community anywhere, number about four thousand, mostly in Karachi, and Lahore. Jamshed Marker represented Pakistan as Ambassador; Byram Avari’s businesses include the Avari hotels. The human rights activist Justice Dorab Patel, another Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court (really, the Supreme Court of Pakistan wasn’t too bad, once upon a time), and also Bapsi Sidhwa , Ardeshir Cowasjee, Aban Marker Kabraji, writer, columnist and scientist respectively are/were all Parsi.
Apparently 33,000 Baha’i still call themselves Pakistani, and 1,500 Budhists, and in spite of all that they’ve been through in recent years, there are over 125,000 Ahmadi CNIC holders.
Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister Sir Zafrullah Khan, probably the most illustrious Ahmadi, drafted the Pakistan Resolution, which makes the treatment meted out to his fellow community members more ironic, also considering that Prof Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s best known scientist, and the first and only Nobel Laureate was Ahmadi. Pakistan is home to the largest Ahmadiya community, but is also the only country in the world to have officially declared Ahmadis non-Muslims, although demands are growing in Bangladesh to follow suit.
It was reported that Imran Khan’s PTI had reached out to the Ahmadiya community for support in the elections, a report that was denied by a PTI spokesperson with unseemly haste, and public venom against the Ahmadis in comments to the news has to be seen to be believed.
It would have raised the PTI considerably in my opinion if they had accepted this ‘accusation’. All parties court their electorate, and minorities are part of the electorate. But probably such things make the TTP ignore the PTI. Nevertheless, the PTI rally in Karachi has been cancelled, just in case. Interesting, who wields the real power here.
According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, “‘The ‘Islamising’ of Pakistan’s schools began in 1976’ when the government curriculum for Social Studies asked students to ‘acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan, and India’s evil designs on Pakistan; to make speeches on jihad, and collect pictures of policemen, soldiers and national guards.’
But where are the lessons of tolerance learnt from that other minority leader, the one who led a party of one and then of just a handful for years in Mecca? We lay terrible deeds to his account, but what of his patience and relations with those who disagreed with him, and his persecution and eventually the Divine verdict against the man and wife who persecuted him and his followers most? Remember Abu Lahab?
The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com