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Monday, January 23, 2012

Pakistan's ignored minority

The free and relatively independent print and broadcast media of Pakistan has one could argue some what liberalized in their ways and in their points of view. In the recent years they have shown concerns for micro issues which was rarely discussed if ever in mainstream journalism such as the mistreatment of minorities or huge levels of poverty in isolated parts of Pakistan. Digital technology has played a significant role in helping Pakistani media achieve all what is today. A popular topic of discussion in the media has been discussion surrounding the rapid radicalization of Pakistani society, and how right wing radicals are high jacking our society, and our beloved nation which was meant to be a secular democracy based on the vision of the founding father is heading down a path of self destruction. We live in a Pakistan, where religious minorities are often on the receiving end of the worst possible treatment thrown at them, not by law on all occasions, but mostly by society. The so called guardians of the law often also show a blind eye to all what is happening, because such mistreatment of minorities directly or indirectly have religious radicals at their roots.

We often read about persecution of Pakistani Christians in Punjab, and Hindu families living in regional Sindh. Be it major metropolitan cities such as Karachi or Lahore, or regional cities Pakistan is indeed not a safe country if you do not happen to fall into the dominant religion of the land. The minority sects of Islam are no different, they too are viewed with suspicion and disgust, and are often subjected to second class treatment and stereo typing of the worst kind. There is a small minority in Pakistan that our media often fails to talk about, in fact I do not think our media has ever bothered to speak about it. It is is about the persecution of Non Religious and Pro Secular Muslims in Pakistani society.

Belonging to the dominant Islamic sect in the land of the pure is no guarantee of safety and an assurance of one's worth. One also has to subscribe to the values held by the conservative and narrow minded right wing religious radicals or the very overly sensitive religious people, otherwise one is attracting unwanted attention, harassment, mockery and discrimination towards themselves. It is no hidden fact that Pakistani society since its inception in 1947 has always been a religiously sensitive society, people even the liberal one's are usually religiously conservative in the bottom of their heart. Regardless of how society has always been, there was a time when the level of intolerance now shown to non religious Muslims ceased to exist, and now the world we live in it has become a common affair.

There are countless examples that can quoted over the treatment off non religious Pakistani Muslims, even those from the dominant Sunni sect. Some of the types of discrimination that such Pakistanis face from their compatriots are as follows:

1. Discrimination
2. Social boycotts
3.Open and Public Verbal harassment
4.Intentional respect shown to their way of life
5.Curses and Condemnation for not being devoutly religious
6.Death threats for having views that are marginally diverse in nature.
7.Attempts at brain washing us through fear and guilt inducement, as if we are deeply lost souls that need salvation
8.Public mockery
9.The Kafir Label Card

People would be surprised how intolerant other's have become. We live in a Pakistan, where people take great serious offence even on something as basic and fundamental as you not joining them for congregation prayers if their being organized, or even forgetting to say the basic prayer before breaking bread. People do not even think twice before losing their calmness and composure and start accusing others of blasphemy if they deem the other's point of view as even marginally divergent from blind devotion. A lot of people reading this might dismiss this as the bullshit of a Westernized foreign educated Pakistani, but rest assured every word of this is based on personal experiences on multiple occasions and there is no element of fabrication here. I have experienced it all, from dirty looks for not praying, to guilt inducement, to even death threats from an educated young man over me not having an objection to a burqa ban in a far away land (France). I think it is high time the media give atleast minimal coverage to the educated non religious intellectuals of Pakistan and their mistreatment at the hands of society, so some general level of awareness is created, otherwise a day will come when the voices of reason and alternative opinions in Pakistan will be permanently silenced.

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