A decaying state kills its minorities
Pakistan ranks the 6th worst country in providing safety and rights to minorities, according to a 2011 World Minority Rights Report. Here, the Friday Times reports on Pakistan’s violations of human rights and religious freedoms. According to the article, young non-Muslim girls are being forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men, Christians are becoming increasing marginalized, and the country’s blasphemy laws are being used to falsely accuse and imprison minorities.
By Khaled Ahmed
09/06/2012 Pakistan (The Friday Times)- A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.
According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.
Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.
The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.
Christians living in the Islamic world are marginalised and threatened with persecution. But Pakistan perhaps began the trend. InFebruary 1997, the twin villages of Shantinagar-Tibba Colony 12 kilometres East of Khanewal, Multan Division, were looted and burnt by 20,000 Muslim citizens and 500 policemen. The police first evacuated the Christian population of 15,000, then helped the raiders use battle-field explosives to blow up their houses and property.
If the state in Pakistan survives, it must call to mind the following articles of the Constitution that give protection to the Christians who form the largest religious minority in Punjab estimated to be between 2 to 4 million:
Article 20: freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions; Article 22: safeguards around education with respect to religious freedom; Article 25: equality of citizenship; Article 36: protection of minorities. But these rights and values enshrined in the Constitution have been undermined by a series of legislations related to the affirmation of the state’s ideological credentials.
Today in 2012, you have TV anchors saying more or less the same thing: Muslims themselves are being maltreated, so the persecution of non-Muslims cannot be blamed on them. Going on a tangent, they allude to the Rohingya Muslims of Burma about whom the rascally foreign-funded NGOs have done nothing. (In Burma, the NGOs protesting Rohingya rights are savagely suppressed by the Burmese ruling junta.) The ominous sign in Pakistan is that the majority Muslim community is completely inured against what the minorities are going through.
The blasphemy law victims bear the brunt of the rage of the Barelvis like late Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi, secretary general of Tanzimat Madaris Dinia, who actually led a Lashkar to Sangla Hill to punish the Christians already mauled by local Muslims. He was later killed by the Taliban who think Barelvis are not good Muslims. The Deobandi rage is directed at the Shia community too. When the state of Pakistan apostatised the Ahmadis through an Amendment in the Constitution in the 1970s some observers opined that the Shia community would be next in line for exclusion and slaughter.
The politicians turn their face away; the judges are scared of the clerical backlash. Pakistan as a state is decaying and is eating its minorities first. Before it becomes a pre-modern hell under Al Qaeda and its followers, it has to accomplish the task begun with the decimation of the Shia: it will eat its Sunni Muslims too. For the non-Muslims it is a prison from which there is no escape.
Pakistan was always dicey with its minorities because of its ideology, but today it is killing its minorities because it is killing itself as a state. The people who have undertaken this destruction have originated in the state of the Muslim mind today across the Islamic world, but their midwife in Pakistan was the Army which nurtured them as the state’s proxy warriors and then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence.
A decaying state kills its minorities