Encourage Pakistan to be liberal

Romesh Raina

This refers to the article, “Fleeing Hindus seek shelter” by Sandhya Jain (November 22) where she talked about the plight and the persecution of Pakistani Hindus who are forced to seek shelter in India.

In my opinion, there are two factors responsible for it. One is that Pakistan is an Islamic state. At the time of its creation in 1947, the argument in its favour was that it was a homeland for Muslims, who were incompatible living with the Hindus. For the past 64 years of its existence it has been practicing this ideology which has permeated its polity. Islam became its state religion and, therefore, all the privileges and benefits of the state religion go to the people following this faith. But India is secular. The citizen constitutes the fundamental unit of the Constitution which does not discriminate among any group, community or religion.

The cumulative impact of the religious ideology as a dominant force of politics of Pakistan impacts harmonious relations between the Hindus and the Muslims. This results in the emergence of majoritarianism which prevents the doctrine of equality from becoming a reality.

The other factor has its roots in the wars the two countries have fought, and all of which Pakistan has lost. The complex that Pakistan has lived with since then is best exhibited by the ‘thousand year war with India’ statement made by former Pakistani President Zulfkar Ali Bhutto some decades ago.

This complex has somehow preoccupied the mental space of the religious ideologues of Pakistan which has found an expression in the civil society responses towards its minorities, especially Hindus, where religious intolerance has reached high. A recent example of intolerance was evident in the assassination of prominent liberal voices of Pakistan like the former Governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer.

It would not be wrong to say that  successive rulers of Pakistan have  become instruments to rule over this toxic form of politics even though the social life of its own civil society got adversely affected as a consequence.

Therefore reformation can happen by encouraging and giving more space to liberal voices within Pakistani society.

Daily Pioneer

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~ by shemrez on November 30, 2011.

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