Minority rights: Freedom or fear

Ardently called Quaid-e-Azam (The Great Leader), the Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave us a free country, with this declaration to the first Constituent Assembly, on August 11, 1947, “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques 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.”

Instead of following the golden words of the Quaid that would have given us a place of respect and honour among the nations of the world, we have sowed the seeds of hate that grew into a crop of fear.

Take a look at the record of our anti-minority activities. We must admit that we are increasingly becoming intolerant towards followers of other faiths who we must protect by all means.

Some communities are frequently targeted. We barely talk about those who are under constant threat for their lives, honour and businesses.

In Lahore, recently, at least 14 conferences were held where speakers spoke out against Ahmadis, instigating the audience to boycott, banish or even kill them, or to make their lives hard at the very least. Loud-speakers blared and fiery speeches were delivered. No state machinery took any action against the organisers even though the administration could do so under Section 153-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. Large police contingents were deputed there but they took no action against the hate campaign.

The world, generally tolerant about us, keeps a watch over how we treat our own minorities. It will certainly pressure us if we do not take the alarming situation seriously, and soon. If we continue to harass the members of minority groups, they will continue to migrate and take refuge abroad. Pakistan’s image will thus be tarnished.

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