Shamim Mahmood (Masih) gives a brief history of how Pakistani minorities had great hope of equal civil rights at Pakistan’s founding following partition in 1947 AND the evolution of massive minority persecution that followed.
Strangers in the Town
By Shamim Mahmood
Sent September 25, 2016 7:58 AM
Islamabad: Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947; and is probably in a fourth generation celebrating its independence now. During the struggle for an independent country, the history is witness that Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Jews that lived in Muslim dominated regions of undivided India supported Jinnah’s vision and worked hard for a separate homeland, Pakistan. A prominent Christian politician – Dewan Bhader S P Singha – voted for Pakistan and thus this country can emerge on the map of the world. The most notable and influential Hindu figure in the Pakistan Movement was Jogendra Nath Mandal from Bengal. Jagannath Azad was from the Urdu speaking belt. Mandal represented the Hindu contingent calling for an independent Pakistan, and was one of the founding fathers of Pakistan. A leading Indian Christian like Pothan Joseph had rendered valuable services as journalists and propagandists of the Muslim League. That means that all communities have played its role for a dreamland. But unfortunately those dreams didn’t come true for minorities of Pakistan.
During the early days of the founder of the nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah, every citizen had enjoyed equal rights but gradually things have been changed. Jinnah had repeatedly promised all citizens of Pakistan complete equality of citizenship, but this promise was not kept by his successors. After the independence, Mandal was given ministries of Law, Justice, and work-force by Jinnah in Liaqat Ali Khan’s government [America accused & another bio]. He, however, realized his folly in 1950, when some lower caste Hindus were killed in clashes in East Bengal, generating a wave of refugees to India. He himself fled to India and submitted his resignation to Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Since then minorities of the country have been considered as strangers while the bureaucracy and administration treated them as second class citizens in Pakistan. By time to time, legislators, bureaucracy and Mullahism proved through their acts that they do not own minorities. A series of unforgettable attacks on minorities along with the discriminatory attitude pushed many of the minorities to re-settle abroad.
During the past seven decades nobody ever realized to bring minorities on into the mainstream. Rather they keep on receiving persecution physically and mentally. For example, making educational calendars has become quite a difficult job in Pakistan. One has to give careful consideration, especially on religious occasions like Eids, Ashura, in addition to weather conditions and public holidays. Usually no such activities like examinations (semester, term or annual) are scheduled in these days.
Unfortunately, no such courtesy is extended to minorities. Throughout their life Pakistan minorities have to battle with school authorities for ignoring their festivals. At times minorities’ children had to miss term papers or monthly tests in order to attend their occasions. A sizable number of minority students appear in these tests and many of them represent from the remote areas. Most students especially girls, are accompanied by their family members while travelling to main cities. People who have travelled on Eid can understand how painful it is to travel on such festive days. Christmas, Easter, Diwali, and other events of minorities are ignored since independence. The authorities concerned should make a better plan to help those who suffer on these counts.
Mandal’s support for the Muslim League, his sacrifices for Pakistan, and his love for Muslims cannot be discredited. His ill-treatment at the hands of a bureaucrat is a dark chapter in our history. In Pakistan, there still exist many Jogendras who exhausted their energies in vain to prove that they are as patriotic as everyone else.
In the present situation, I should say, it is not only unsatisfactory but absolutely hopeless and that the future seems completely dark and dismal. The confidence of the minorities in Pakistan has not been restored in the least.
Journalist, Blogger and Social Reformer
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Edited by John R. Houk
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