In light of recent events, it is necessary to draw a comparison between Pakistani behaviors towards foreign minorities and those abroad. As the victims of New Zealand hate crime gain international attention, people from around the globe, especially Muslim nations stand in unity with their Muslim brethren in condolence for their losses, however, how far does this grief extend?
Pakistani people did not wait to condemn the Christchurch terrorist attack on the mosque and took to social media to express their deep fear and disgust of the steadily rising Islamophobia, but as per the question posed above, is our grief only limited to our Muslim brothers and sisters abroad, or do we care to think of the persecution faced by the Shia and Ahmadi community in our own country?
Although the nation seems to care a great deal about Muslim minority rights in other countries, it is less keen on guaranteeing freedom and protection to those that are harmed and discriminated against regularly. A fine example was seen when New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adorned clothing with a “dupatta,” covering her head as per Arab tradition as a gesture of support and love for the Muslim community of New Zealand; the gesture was appreciated greatly by the nation but let’s suppose for this instance, if the Prime Minister were Mr. Imran Khan of Pakistan.
Imagine, if, in response to the hate crimes committed against Ahmadi Muslims, he were to don a Karakul and pray with them in one of their mosques – given that mosque hasn’t been attacked, demolished or set on fire – what would the nation’s reaction be? Well, if an entire country can be forced to shut down because of the release of an innocent Christian woman by religious clerics and the leaders of the fascist extreme right wing of the country, one can only imagine the chaos that would occur if the democratically elected leader of the country were to support the Ahmadi community. Even a single statement from the Prime Minister’s office in support of the community could lead to a dangerous increase in crimes, let alone being seen with the oppressed Muslims.
Moreover, not only have he had only one female Prime Minister so far, if it were a woman in the office who had taken a similar step to the aforementioned instance, she would be shunned from society, with questions raised on her character and “morality,” and religious leaders of the country would release several fatwas against her, putting her life in mortal peril.
Since we’re on the topic of recent happenings and religious minorities, the nation has always turned their backs on the Hindu communities. A recent instance of two minor girls being kidnapped at the Hindu festival of Holi, after which they were forcefully converted to Islam, and married off to older men.
To absolutely no one’s surprise at first, there were no statements released from Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s current Federal Minister of Human Rights. Fortunately, the clerics who married off the two girls have been arrested, and action is being taken against them.
This does not change the fact that while we are quick to point fingers at other nations for oppressing religious minorities, we have never been able to cater to the needs of the oppressed religious minorities in our own country and need quick, decisive action to create reforms and protect them.