Is safeguarding the life and rights of religious minorities a responsibility of the government? In the context of Pakistan, present or past, it appears not to be the case.
So is the targeted killing and persecution of religious minorities actually a credit to the government?
If you follow a certain Mr. Faisal Raza Abidi, it would seem so. For wherever Faisal Raza goes these days, he wears the badge of minority rights with great pride and greater pompousness. It’s quite mesmerizing actually.
For instance, I was dumbfounded when I saw him invoking the names of dead Shia leaders, at the top of his voice, to batter an anchor into submission. The fact that these leaders had been killed on the watch of a PPP government that seemed not in the least bit interested, or bothered, about their life or death, was lost on Abidi.
I mean we have seen a lot in the last 4 years or so, granted. But vying for political mileage over dead bodies? That too of people you were sworn to and failed to, or didn’t want to, protect. I really cannot come up with an analogy.
You may ask what allows Abidi and company to get away this. How can they stand by and watch as their citizens are butchered and then shout about it on TV? Well, it’s the media. Or a certain section of the media.
This is the section that lays claim to the moral high ground more often than WAPDA cuts your power. They are the champions of free speech, of tolerance and are great friends of the minorities in Pakistan. They are also great friends of the PPP, but don’t say that out loud.
It’s peculiar how these mild mannered folk, who believe in tolerance and abhor abusive trolls, love the slightly less mild mannered Faisal Raza. It’s also peculiar how they oversee, everyday, what the PPP has done to minorities in Pakistan.
How? The “Deep State”. It remains the refuge of the PPP apologist. They hide behind it, pleading that their liberal party is helpless. They say the party’s hands are tied.
Yet there is much they don’t say.
They don’t say how there is more sectarian strife in the country today than when the military was directly in power, under Musharraf. They don’t say how the siege of Shia-Hazaras in Balochistan intensified under the current regime or how the PPP Chief Minister can’t even feign pity for them. Let alone the President.
They don’t say how this government has failed to control growth of sectarian outfits throughout the country, from Sindh to Gilgit to Balochistan. They don’t say that the PPP has failed to introduce stricter anti-terrorism legislation either. Apparently the Deep State wanted to do away with the third time prime minister clause instead? It also demanded public office holders be granted immunity from contempt proceedings.
It’s not that these people don’t have a voice. They speak ferociously enough, just not when the “secular” parties are involved. Suppose one “Sheeda Tully”, classy btw, was involved in forceful conversion of Hindu girls. Nusrat Javed might have spontaneously combusted on TV. It was though a PPP MNA, so he's safe. Similarly, imagine if an Imran Khan government were to incarcerate an 11 year old Christian girl on blasphemy charges. Now imagine Sana Bucha. Exactly.
The fact is, an ulema council has actually come out to support the girl. In the meantime former Prime Minister, upholder of the constitution and champion of the masses, Yousaf Raza Gillani has claimed credit for Bhutto’s Ahmedi achievement.
Still there is scant chance Muhammad Hanif will find himself in a seat next to the former PM on one of his travels.
None of these champions of minority rights will ask the PPP why they have been this inhuman, this unmoved and this complicit in the atrocities committed. They will instead write one harrowing tale after the other, each ending before the victims can lodge a complaint against their government. A government that not only abandoned them, it persecuted them as well.
It is however a PPP government, so that must not make it to the papers. It doesn’t need to, man. You wrote a vague story from a distant land, such bravery would put a lion to shame. You outdid yourself sire. Your best article ever, for the third time this week! Bla bla bla.
Young “jiyalas” don’t grow up to be unbiased commentators. A Radio only broadcasts its feed. Institutes don’t fund themselves.
There is so much this county has given to minorities isn’t there. And prominent among our many gifts - are friends like these.