By Kaleem Dean
I was eager to express my thoughts over the brutal killing of a 16-year-old Christian man, Arslan Mushtaq at the hands of Punjab police in Sheikhupura but was compelled to write on a different topic when, after the dramatic arrest and release from the NAB court, Caption (retd) Safdar made a speech against the Ahmadi community.
The Ahmadi community specifically and other minorities generally have been troubled by the hateful remarks of one of the leading members of the ruling party. In limited zones, the narrative may work, but in the 21st century Pakistan, these dogmas will bring more serious harms to the national security as well as generate international criticism. Safdar’s rhetoric will strengthen the dodgy narrative that has already erected barbed wires of social difference among both the majority and minority communities living in Pakistan. For the record, during the reign of PML-N, minorities’ worship places, their settlements and institutions were targeted the most.
Comments from the parliamentarian against minorities were a clear representation of a mindset, working against the ideology of Pakistan which was based on respect for different faiths and religions. The role of minorities in the formation of Pakistan has been blotched from the history of the movement so to claim the rightful heir of the state. These fanatic movements were against the birth of Pakistan and until today their agenda remains the same. The back-seaters who worked against the creation of Pakistan are now contending to drive the nation with their traditional rod of theocracy. For refreshing memories, the founder of Pakistan had warm relations with Ahmadis, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, and Hindus living in the newly born state. Major Shaukat Hayat Khan in his book, The Nation that lost its soul mentions the Quaid’s intentions to seek prayers and support for the Ahmadi community of the India subcontinent and the community agreed by saying, “where the help is needed, no Ahmadi will stand against any Muslim Leaguer.”
The back-seaters who worked against the creation of Pakistan are now contending to drive the nation with their traditional rod of theocracy. For refreshing memories, let us recall that the founder of Pakistan had warm relations with Ahmadis, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs and Hindus
Air Marshal Zafar Chaudhry, the first Chief of Air Staff, was the founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. General Iftikhar Janjua was the only Army General martyred during war duty in 1971. Sir Chaudhry Zafar Ullah Khan was the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan and was a loyal companion of the Quaid-e-Azam. In 1980, Dr Abdus Salam was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution towards the theory of electroweak unification in Particle Physics. His services remained unacknowledged in Pakistan, even after he won the Nobel Prize.
He was invited to the Quaid-e-Azam, University Islamabad but was not allowed to enter when Jamat-e-Islami (JI) student and other fanatic political parties started protesting against his arrival in Pakistan. However, approximately, after 40 years, in 2016, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, dedicated the Physics Department in the Quaid-e-Azam University after his name. His decision was bitterly opposed by Captain Safdar and the like-minded groups. After General Ayub Khan took over as army chief, till 1951, three non-Muslims served as chiefs of Pakistan Army.
Most recently, Major General Asif Ghafoor has categorically acknowledged minorities’ contribution and their loyalty to Pakistan. In the month of September, Maryam Nawaz visited a church to thank the Christian community for their services to their family and the country, but in the end, her political gimmick was rejected by the community. It was St. Anthony’s High School that groomed Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif during his school years. All children of the Sharif family attended St. Mary’s Convent and other Christian institutions. The highly irrational speech of Captain Safdar has hurt minorities’ feelings, therefore, any effort to divide the society into further segmentation would be disastrous. Democracy serves all but with special considerations of the lower and marginalised sections of the society. Unfortunately, the undemocratic forces have overpowered the present-day political system, the root of which could be traced directly from the objective resolution of 1949. Quaid’s Pakistan was not the one with these courses of fanatic socio-political syllabi, but it was to be an enlightened modern Islamic State. It should be realised that a few million minorities are not a security threat, and snubbing them institutionally will never ensure a prosperous Pakistan.
The constitution of Pakistan does not allow them to become Chief Executive Office of the county, governor of a province or army chief. They have been awarded 5 per cent job quota, the promise of which has never been fulfilled by the national or the provincial institutions. Numeration of minorities remains static, and the country’s population has reached to 200 million but ethnic minorities’ percentage does not exceed three per cent.
It is about time the social narrative of the country is revisited. Fanaticism, aggression and intolerance are not the postulates of the Islamic ideology. The followers of aggression will generate aggression whereas a new narrative of love thy neighbour will provide a sound foundation to a civilized Pakistan and in the real sense we would achieve Jinnah’s Pakistan.