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When it comes to minorities rights, Pakistan is worse than Myanmar

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Myanmar is all the rage in Pakistan these days. Especially on Facebook. Though the frequency of the posts has dropped a little after the Eid as the clerics are done with their hide collections and there’s not much incentive in the rhetoric remaining anymore, there is still a visible outrage among the common Pakistanis, always feeling the pain of the Muslims living in far off lands such as Myanmar, Palestine, India, Bangladesh, Chechnya, Sudan and elsewhere. But at the same time, the biggest issue in the country since yesterday has been the passing of an amendment in the constitution that allows disqualified PM Nawaz Sharif to head his political party, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) legislator from Khyber Pakhtukhwa Mr Ali Muhammad Khan resorted to the age-old Khatam-e-Nabuwwat weapon as he claimed that the government had modified the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat clause in the constitution under this amendment. Law Minister Zahid Hamid came on TV today and clarified that no such amendment had been made in the constitution.

And herein lies the problem. Knowing that the masses would not be moved by the complaints like ‘subverting of the spirit of the constitution’ and ‘person-specific amendment’, the PTI legislator knew that the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat card could rally the people against the amendment. Though the move failed to create a stir in the already troubled waters of Pakistani politics, it clearly demonstrated that the populist politicians could use such things at will to attain their ends when required and that they were obviously hopeful of the masses reacting to such propaganda.

The Khatam-e-Nabuwwat laws in Pakistan’s constitution actually deal with the Ahmadiyya community. The supposed amendment got rid of an election law according to which any person who would want to contest an election in Pakistan would have to submit an affidavit that testifies that they believe in the finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The clause, as clarified by Zahid Hamid, has not been removed from the constitution and is still very much there. Yet, the whole episode brought to the fore the dark side of Pakistani society in which a Khatam-e-Nabuwwat clause in an amendment can be used to oust a government and bring down the entire system even.

The Ahmadiyya community is one of the most persecuted communities in Pakistan. It is often blamed of every ill in this country. People on mainstream Pakistani media have often used derogatory comments for them and there have been hundreds of thousands supporting such people as well. For instance, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, one such bigoted media anchor currently associated with Bol TV, openly blamed the Ahmadiyya community for the 2014 APS Peshawar attack on the most watched private TV channel of Pakistan i.e. Geo News. The same person decried this supposed constitutional amendment as well, going on to say that he had lost all hope in Pakistani constitution and Pakistani democracy after this amendment and tried to shame the ‘ulema’, inciting them to rise against this bill in revolt. The irony is that this man staged a drama last month of going to Myanmar for helping the persecuted Muslim community there.

The fact is that Pakistan is worse than Myanmar on the minority rights front according to Minority Rights Group International. Its 2017 report says that Pakistan is the 9th most dangerous country for the minorities in the world while Myanmar is 10th. Pakistan ranks worse than Myanmar on critical indicators like ‘Voice and Accountability’ and ‘Political Stability’. Another key indicator is that of the ‘factionalized elites’. What is that? According to stewards.edu, “Factionalized elites can be defined as the splintering of a nation into political groups that promote rhetoric and actions that are harmful to the country”. This is exactly what was discussed in the beginning of this write-up. An elected member of the parliament promoting the rhetoric that is harmful to the country.

So while the mullahs are all wrath these days about the Rohingya Muslims, what we need to do is to stop listening to these ‘partisans of Allah’ and start paying attention to what’s happening around us. Our country is worse for the minorities than Myanmar. And this figure comes from a well-reputed institution. If we can’t right the wrongs that we have done, we have no right to be mad at a country some 3000 kilometres away.

 

Author’s Bio: The author is an editor and writes on political and social issues. He writes for Dunya Blogs, The Friday Times, Fasaadi.com and Humsub.com.pk. He can be reached at @thealiwarsi

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