ISLAMABAD: (Shamim Masih) It remains a fact that minorities of Pakistan are crippled and damaged under anarchy system. In the prevailing social scenario of the country the message of the founder of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah appears to be lost somewhere and the continuous hatching of conspiracies by certain elements with vested interests and nefarious designs, seems to have prevailed. Mr. Jinnah, while addressing the concerns of communities in Pakistan, very clearly said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your Churches or to any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Before Election 2013, representatives from different political parties have reaffirmed their commitment to religious minorities and promised to work for a Pakistan where every person, regardless of caste, creed or faith, is treated equally in the day-long national consultation on the “Election 2013, Role and Responsibility of the Religious Minorities” organized by the coalition for the Rights of Minorities (CRM).
Earlier South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) arranged group discussion “Awam Chahtey Hain” and Romana Bashir, (a social activist from Christian minority) among the panelists raised and demanded a clear policy from the mainstream political parities against hate material in the syllabus and anti-human and anti-minority laws.
According to the report, the Social Studies curriculum in Pakistan, as the product and propagator of the ‘Ideology of Pakistan,’ derives its legitimacy from a narrow set of directives.
The textbooks authored and altered during the 11 years of General Zia ul Haq’s rule are still being taught in schools. They are decidedly anti-democratic and inclined to dogmatic tirades, the report said.
It said the country’s education system had nurtured a cadre of religiously conservative youth as the Pakistan Studies curriculum employed a narrow, politicized definition of Islam in the construction of Pakistani nationalism.
Local textbooks teach students that Hindus(of India) are backward and superstitious and given a chance, they would assert their power over the weak, especially, Muslims, depriving them of education by pouring molten lead in their ears. “Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbor,” the report stated. The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. The report added that students were taught that Islam brought peace, equality, and justice to the subcontinent, to check the sinister ways of Hindus.
When I went through the Constitution of Pakistan, I was shaken to see the Constitutional discrimination against minorities. And it’s even pathetic to know that none of our Pakistani Christians leader raised voice against it. Let’s go back and see the inaugural speech of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah which made clear reference to the kind of the State that he envisioned. He was unequivocal that the new state will be secular as he said that it will not difference its citizens on the basis of religion. Founder of Pakistan died in September 1948, way before the Assembly could make a constitution for the new country. The latter leaders pegged the constitution on Islam which many describe as a gross violation of the ideal set by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 11 August speech.
Social persecution and legal discrimination against minorities has reached at its climax. Nationalizing Missionaries schools and colleges in 1972 was a move by Mr. Bhutto, founder of Pakistan People’s Party, PPP, thus persecution started during Bhutto’s regime. Then a military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq unleashed a wave of persecution in the 1980s, since then violence against minorities has never really ceased. Attackers kill and wound particular Christians and Ahmadis burn their homes and business.
Christians and other minorities wish and expect that the reaffirmation of politicians come true and Pakistan becomes the country where all citizens shall be treated equally regardless of caste, creed or faith. Every Pakistani should take this as initiative to stop the alienation of the religious minorities, taking place. The government will have to address the situation at a policy level and take steps to ensure the rights of these communities. Hate speeches and exploitation of masses under the grab of religion, will have to be stopped. A combine effort is required by everyone to bring these communities back into the mainstream Pakistani identity. Their apprehensions should be addressed and they should be treated as an equal citizen. This will not only represent Islam’s message of coexistence and peace but will also form an exemplary social structure, for the whole world and fulfill the Quaid’s dream of a prosperous and peaceful Pakistani state.