Minorities, finally


House waking up?

Going through the customary motions of Minorities Day our lawmakers must have realised that the House’s contribution to upholding minorities’ rights in this Islamic Republic has been rhetorical at best for a long, long time. Also, while showering praise upon “patriotic minority members who sacrificed their lives in the war against terror – also for their services in… education and health”, the Lower House stopped short of suggesting tangible, quantifiable measures that would, for once, back words with action. Still, the Assembly – however visibly depleted — did spring a surprise, adopting the Quaid’s vision about minorities.

There can be no doubt that the state needs to overhaul its existing system of protecting minorities for the simple reason that it has been an abject failure. And it is strange, to say the least, that a large number of lawmakers hold similar views, apparently, yet are unable to initiate any movement on the issue. There is obvious pressure from their colleagues of the far right of the spectrum. Some say, with credible evidence, that more than political resistance it is threats from the more militant minded Islamists send shivers down many spines in both Houses.

Whatever the reason for the paralysis, nobody can deny that all this while the blasphemy law has been misused, Shi’a, Christians, Ahmedis, etc, have been mercilessly killed, Hindus have been forcefully converted or exiled, and the wronged have found little justice, if any, so far. Since protecting minorities naturally comes within the wider ambit of the war against terrorism, hopefully this time the government will be more serious about walking the talk. That is why this Minorities Day held more symbolic value than usual. And it is telling that Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947, itself a subject of controversy for the religious-conservative lobby, has been projected as the vision for the future.