Time to right the major wrong
by Bisma Nazir
International covenants of human rights are constantly challenged as minorities continue to be persecuted in many countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and even India.
PERSECUTION of minorities in south Asian countries particularly Pakistan, Sri Lanka,
Nepal, Bangladesh and off late, in India, on one pretext or the other has been made to
feel like a normal thing in the last few years. The only difference is that in countries like
Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the persecution of minorities is seen as state policy.
Infringement upon the rights of the minority is not only justified but also promoted by the state and its institutions in both the countries. Majoritarian authority or majoritarianism are the driving force in these countries defining the fundamental rights here. The perception about the minorities in these countries is pathetic which goes against the international
covenants about the basic human rights. Minorities are treated as secondary citizens.
They don’t have rights. They can’t think of a better life because the dominating narrative
is that they could only live a coded life defined by the majoritarianism. The basic
human right about preaching and practising any faith or religion is the causality. Reports
about the persecution in minorities in Pakistan particularly come in the media
almost on a daily basis. From 27% in 1947, the population of minorities in Pakistan is
just over 3% today. The glaring and heart- wrenching videos go viral on social media
platforms where minorities are even denied basic amenities like water and electricity.
Unfortunately, the migration of minorities from Pakistan to safer places like India has
restarted in the last couple of years which only reflects on the plight of minorities in
that country. Enforced migration and conversion are seen as something close to
the hearts and minds of majority community in these countries. Pakistan, particularly, is perusing the conversion of minorities as state policy. The blasphemy laws enacted by the Pakistani state have further deteriorated the condition of minorities in that country. The laws are invoked at will and the accusations do not need to be proved in any court of law
essentially because the accused are subjected to mob justices before reaching the court. Hundreds of members of the minority community are lynched to death by street mobs and the law-enforcing agencies simply enjoy the lynching at a distance. Mob-lynching in Pakistan remains uncondemned. Barring some journalists, writers of Pakistani origin are sitting overseas and this highlights the plight of the minorities in that country. Mob rule, as
such, has not attracted the criticism from the citizens of that country again for two
reasons. Mob rule is a culture which originates from authoritarianism of the
majority community. Interestingly persecution of minorities in Pakistan is an all-weather norm; it has least to do with elections unlike India. In our country, an atmosphere of
polarisation is created well ahead of the elections in the country. This culture is
purely limited to elections – whether state or Parliament elections. Whereas in
Pakistan, the persecution of minorities, as mentioned earlier, is perused as state
policy. There is approval to the persecution of minorities from the society itself which
has been deeply radicalised over the years and has become more and more intolerant
towards the other. Leave linorities aside; sectarian clashes in Pakistan have achieved
a dangerous ramification. Killing of Shias in mosques by suicide bombers is not new.
The events which have unfolded in Pakistan over the years indicate that the Pakistani
state has no will to put a stop to the sectarian clashes. Rather, the state seems
to be complicit and in certain cases, is willingly allowing the sectarian clashes.
The Indian subcontinent on the whole is perusing anti-minority policy, immaterial whether it is deliberate for electoral gains as is the case in India or it is a belief as in case of Pakistan. The fact of the matter is – whatever the reason, the persecution of minorities is something which is anti-thesis to the democratic spirit and culture. It is quite understood that democracy as such could not take roots in Pakistani society because of the intervention of military and mosque in the state craft. It will take decades for Pakistan to realise the essence of democracy and democratic culture. The influence of medieval thought processes and unscientific approach towards the resolution of the problems encountered by the Pakistani society remains at the heart of their state policy. This is precisely why Pakistani state has become a breeding ground for terrorism. Terrorism, by its definition, is a violent expression of intolerance towards others who don’t subscribe to a particular view point. And that is precisely why sectarian clashes and persecution of minorities are pervasive in Pakistan. There is no value for human lives. It is a tragedy that there is a global shift towards far right and as such there is no outburst and condemnation of what is happening in Pakistan. Take, for instance, the most progressive, most developed and the oldest democracy of United States of America. The media in USA shows selective outrage towards India for a polarised atmosphere. Indian rightists immediately launch a scathing attack on USA and rightly so, against the culture of supremacy and growing intolerance towards the black people. No country on earth today has the right to criticise another because every single country sails in the same boat. Under such a global scenario
Pakistan is pursuing the anti-minority policy at its will because there is no one to condemn. We are strangely facing a global phenomenon where basic human rights are butchered or at least undermined by developed and the under-developed alike.