By Tarek Fatah
June 10, 2014
Yoko Ono said in 1973, “I don’t believe people are capable of real hate.”
Apparently she had missed the George Harrison-Ringo Starr concert in solidarity with the victims of a hate-inspired genocide in Bangladesh by Pakistan.
Forty years later, Pakistan is still on its downward spiral of hate and religious bigotry.
On Sunday night, while much of the media focused on the Taliban attack on Karachi airport, a horrendous act of religious hatred was unfolding elsewhere in Pakistan but went almost unreported.
The sleepy town of Taftan lies on the Pakistan side of the Iran-Pakistan border. It serves as a transportation hub for pilgrims headed in both directions.
On Sunday night, 300 Shia Muslim pilgrims had crossed the border, returning from a pilgrimage to holy sites in Iran.
They had settled down for the night in a modest hotel when a suicide bomber belonging to the Sunni Muslim terrorist group, Jaish-ul-Islam (Army of Islam), blew himself up, killing 23 pilgrims and injuring scores of others.
This slaughter was an act of hatred by a young man brainwashed by Islamic clerics in search of so-called purity, the perfection of Islam embedded in the very name “Pakistan” — The Land of the Pure.
Last week this hatred towards the “other” was felt in Canada.
I am not talking about the Calgary Pakistan-Canadian who blew himself up in Syria.
Rather, it was the funeral in Vaughan, just north of Toronto, of a Canadian cardiologist, Mehdi Ali Qamar, who was killed in Pakistan for the crime of being an Ahmadiya Muslim.
Pakistan was born in 1947 in a climate of hatred towards Hindu and Sikh Indians.
Over a million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs died in the ensuing partition of British India, making sworn enemies out of neighbours who had lived side-by-side for centuries.
Today, it’s not just the Hindus. The list of people many in Pakistan hate is long.
Here is a hierarchy of it. By producing this list, I am guilty of washing a lot of dirty linen in public. But the stench of hate is so unbearable; it forces me to bare my soul.
1. Hindus and India
3. Christians and America
4. Ahmadiya Muslims
5. Shia Muslims and Iran
6. Baloch and the Bengali
7. Blacks and Africans
8. Gays and Lesbians
9. Poor and Disabled
10. Joy and Happiness
Growing up, I was told Hindus were dirty, ugly and had a slavish mentality, while we Muslims were the people chosen to rule over Hindus because we were better looking, ate beef and had the genes of Arabs and Central Asians that made us “fair and lovely.”
Conventional wisdom dictated that education and exposure to the West would tame the hatred many in Pakistan have for others, but that was not to be.
On the very day Dr. Qamar was killed, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, who also served as the country’s information minister, was caught on video making derogatory remarks about Indian politicians.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s predominantly Hindu cabinet, she said, “Look at their cabinet ministers ... wall-to-wall ugliness.”
Right here in Toronto I know of Pakistanis who will not eat food prepared by a Hindu chef — but will deny it in public.
But as my ancestors affirmed in Sanskrit, “Satyameva Jayate”: “Truth alone triumphs”?