No place for minorities in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa - Pakistan map

Intro: No place for minorities in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan

The political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) failed to win Pakistan’s parliamentary elections in May 2013. Pakistan’s big winner was Nawaz Sharif. PTI’s leader Imran Khan managed to form a provincial government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Khan made campaign promises that implied he will bring Pakistan out of corrupt governance with the aid of all Pakistanis. The insinuation of “all” means majority Muslims, minority Christians, minority Shia Muslims, Hindus and Ahmadiyya Muslims. The term for this new united Pakistan is Naya Pakistan.

 

Of Pakistan minorities those considered on the lowest rung of existence by the majority Sunni Muslims are Christians and Ahmadis. Thus unless a Christian is a beneficiary of condoned wealth by the majority they are in some worst terms of poverty and considered social pariahs.

 

The Naya Pakistan promises or manifesto relating minorities which is allegedly is inclusive of Christians runs something like this:

 

Imran, who chose the venue of Saturday’s rally for being the site where Indian Muslims first made their official demand for a separate homeland, pledged in his speech to always “speak the truth with the nation”.

 

He went on to assure that he would wage a ‘jihad’ against oppression and side with the oppressed, including women and minorities, if he came to power.

 

“I will establish the supremacy of law, I will not have property or bank accounts abroad,” he said, alluding to accusations of corruption against politicians.

 

“It is my promise to you that I will … (Bold Emphasis Mine – ‘Naya Pakistan’ rally: Imran ignites poll drive; By AFP / Anwer Sumra; The Express Tribune; 5/24/13)  

 

Shamim Mehmood (Masih) is not trusting of Imran Khan’s promises for a Naya Pakistan.

 

JRH 7/6/13

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No place for minorities in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan

 

By Shamim Mehmood

Sent: July 5, 2013 10:28 AM

 

ISLAMABAD: A lot has been written about the plight of minorities in Pakistan – some by the minorities themselves and some by the majority. Minority rights in Pakistan were always broken. Majority always copes while minority bears the brunt.

 

In this piece, however, I want to focus on another aspect of the statement Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader issued, which I doubted pertaining to Christians. I heard Imran Khan many times and observed that he is not favorable toward Pakistani minorities. During the 2013 election drive, he never favored them neither has he given priority to Christians in the priority list submitted to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Christians are the biggest minority in Pakistan but placed second on purpose. [SlantRight Editor: In trying to verify Shamim’s premise that Christians are the actual largest minority in Pakistan I discovered it is depending on who you read. What is evident is that Christians and Hindus are the largest minorities. The Christian-Hindu populations are essentially neck-n-neck as to which is largest. In order to offer the benefit of the doubt to Shamim the Pakistani-Hindu population seems to be on an exodus out of Pakistan which favors the emergence of Christians as the largest minority.]

 

PTI is a pro-Islamic political party and it is clearly seen that the PTI leader has been favoring the Taliban and has been in favor of Jammat-e-Islami – which is a radical political party and an ally party of the PTI in KPK. The PTI chief had been claiming from years that his party will provide justice to every citizen irrespective of cast, creed and religion but I personally observed him as rigid/fundamentalist. Finally, the PTI nominated Chief Minister in KPK is showing the real face of the PTI after coming in power in one province of Pakistan. While delivering his statement, he said that sanitary workers (cleaning drains, streets and roads) jobs will be given to minorities (Christians, Hindus and schedule casts) only. Muslims from the province are not eligible for this job. On July 2, 2013, RAZA ROOMI and BEENISH SALEEM have spoken about this statement on CAPITAL TV in SEEDHI BAAT (Talk Show).

 

Finally, someone from the PTI has spoken and has shown the double standard of their mentality. It is worth reflecting that in Europe and America Muslims have built mosques by the thousands and practice their faith daily, and it does not cause any disruption. Lately, since 9/11 there has been some change in attitudes by Europeans’ but it is minor compared to the horrors minorities face in Pakistan.

 

Christians of vicinity have been serving the nation in the educational, health and social sectors. Unfortunately, ZA Bhutto nationalized their institutions and declared them second class citizens. Now, the PTI leader is forcing them to perform cleaning or sanitary jobs.

 

Parvez Khatak has really hurt the feelings of the minorities. Christians are disappointed from the change they planned to bring in the country.

 

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCP) has strongly condemned the statement and demanded immediate clarification from Imran Khan, chief of PTI on his party leader. He urged the Pakistani Christians to stay away from PTI because the next step might be to announce separate dress for non-Muslims in KPK.

 

Albert David – Chairman Pakistan United Christian Movement – PUCM declared it, highly insensitive, discriminatory and biased remarks from PTI leadership. PUCM chief has demanded a public apology and resignation from Mr. Khattak otherwise the PTI will face a strong protest by Non-Muslim Pakistanis if the leadership of the PTI does not take immediate action. Is this the “changing” that the PTI had been rallying for, David questioned the PTI leadership?

 

Shireen Mazari PTI spokesperson said when I asked about this statement, she sent me a text massage saying [SlantRight Editor: I am assuming Shamim is paraphrasing in English from the original language], “It was not against minorities. He spoke against the previous minister who hired hoards of sifarshis as sweepers and once in there these people said they could not do the job as they were “Muslims” and wanted to be posted elsewhere! So the CM said if these people refused to do the job they were hired for because they were Muslims and wouldn’t clean (etc.) then they should be fired and Christians who needed the job should be hired instead.” So how is that being against minorities?

 

It is amazing that the people refused to do the job they were hired for and CM declared this job is only for minorities. I wanted to ask the Christian campaigners, who have invested their time and money for this day?

 

It does make me feel that there must be some form of racism or discrimination towards people of other faiths especially in Pakistan where the minority is less valued or less valued as a worthy human being and thus are given jobs that is considered as lower-end jobs for (according to some societies) lower- class/worthless/low status people. I, however, think that is simply bang out of order. You can’t go round treating people who are not on the same level as you or who don’t share the same religion as you to give them jobs that are inferior just because they are inferior to you on the basis that they are not Muslims. It is morally wrong way to go about dealing with people.

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© Shamim (Masih) Mehmood

Edited by John R. Houk

Explanatory links added by Editor

 

Shamim Masih

Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist 

Secretary General

REAP

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Use Public Office to Protect Christians’ Rights


Nawaz Sharif 2- PM Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif – Prime Minister Pakistan

 

Here is an important editorial about the plight of Pakistani minorities and Christians in particular. That picture is not a rosy one. Shamim sent this to me a while ago but a recent move has me a bit behind in monitoring my emails. Due to an assumption of a lack of awareness of Pakistani politics and religious affairs I will link to some of organizations and people Shamim writes about.

 

JRH 6/25/13

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Christian Minorities in Pakistan

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: June 16, 2013 3:54 AM

 

ISLAMABAD – The peace interventions ratio in Pakistan is always disproportional in the supply and demand. Pakistani society is gradually dipping into disharmony and going awry as demand increases and supply is less than its required level.  Pakistan is unable to achieve its desired status in the comity of nations despite having good natural and human resources; the reason is that there is injustice at the heart of all its systems and levels.

 

Pakistani Christians appear to have thrown some of their political support to Nawaz Sharif in the May 11 election, although they have reason to be wary of his return to power. During the campaign Nawaz Sharif promised that his party would give equal rights to minorities, including Christians. The PML-N even took the unusual step of thanking minority voters for their support. There could be unbelievable positive change for the Christians because the way Shahbaz Sharif rehabilitated Christian’s families of Joseph Colony, which was attacked by Muslim protesters in March this year, and have changed Christians’ view about Sharif’s party. If so, the PML-N will have to overcome a history that Christians find worrisome.

 

The Taliban, in turn, have close connections with Islamic militant organizations, including Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan– SSP, a banned terrorist organization, which has been targeting minority-Muslim Ahmedis and Shias, as well as Christians. The SSP still operates in Punjab province under a new name, Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat, which reportedly has struck a bargain with Sharif’s party for some of the PML-N seats in the Punjab provincial government.

 

During the time in power in the 1990 – 93, the PML-N included the fundamentalist Islamic group Jamat-e-Islami in its coalition government. We have experienced that PML-N tried to bring Islamic laws in the country in its last ruling tenure. The majority of Christians are not optimistic about Sharif’s government because of their religious approach and close linkages with fundamentalist groups, said Sajid Ishaq, central President PTI, minorities’ wing.

 

The PML-N history of ruling over Punjab province is marked by several episodes of anti-Christian violence. The village Shantinagar, 1997, seven Christians were burned alive in Gojra, in 2009, attacked on Christians in Khokharki, Gujranwala in 2011 and most recent riots in Joseph Colony in 2013.

 

Albert David, Chairman Pakistan United Christian Movement, whilst commenting on the current situation said that the mandate given to PML- N is an opportunity for the government to bridge the widening gap between the state and Pakistani Non-Muslims, especially Christians. Devising of Standard Operating Procedures and ensuring that they followed religiously by the law enforcement agencies while dealing with any case of blasphemy could be one of the many confidence building measures (CBMs). This would ensure that the law is only applied to preserve its real spirit and sanctity and not to settle personal vendettas, which at times affects people from all faiths, including Muslims. Apart from this dealing with some of the other political issues including electoral system, census (to determine exact population of Christians), denationalization of Christian institutes and revitalization National Commission for Minorities could be some of the other CBMs.

 

Blasphemy Laws are widely criticized as its being misused by Muslims trying to settle scores and extort property, but are also popular with ordinary citizens. The Blasphemy Law is one of the major causes of the Christians’ troubles in Pakistan, especially in the Punjab province. Basharat Khokhar, who had been falsely charged with blasphemy in 2008, doesn’t expect Sharif to change or review it now.

 

“The religious-fanatics are responsible for the tense situation of Christians in Pakistan, and this nothing to do with the government,” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, Ex- MPA and social rights activist. “This is big challenge, if Mian Nawaz Sharif does not take any practical step in favor of Christians to protect them from extremists, the situation would be worse, he added.

 

If Mian Nawaz Sharif wanted to bring some changes for Pakistani Christians; here are few recommendations:

 

1-     Census: Christians are the biggest minority in the country, while Election Commission of Pakistan – ECP has declared them 2nd biggest minority. Christians are living in every corner of the country and Hindus majority living in Sindh province. So census can give you the exact figure.

 

2-     Election not Selection for the minorities: It is beseeched that PML-N, while honoring its commitment must include minorities in every walk of field and give dual voting rights to minorities so they may express their will and elect their representatives. Selections of minority candidates are totally at major parties disposal, which is not true representation. PML-N has been given a heavy mandate and religious minorities stood with Nawaz Sharif so he must draw parameters to bring their true representation in the parliament. If PML-N doesn’t take initiative it may mean that the government has certainly given clear message that minorities are still not emancipated and are the second grade citizen, which is disenchanting and disheartening.    

 

3-     Equal representation in the legislative body: The Christian community in particular has been targeted and internationally ostracized in the past. Even in the present government the representation of Christians in the National Assembly at reserved seats is not in accordance with their population. Christians who are in majority among minorities communities of Pakistan are reduced to 3 out of 10 reserved seats in NA. Such a representation of minority community on reserved seats at national level has caused serious apprehension among the Christian community who find it beyond any justification.

 

4-     Restoration of Ministry of Minority Affairs: It sounds good that PML-N declare Kamran Michael as Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping but he is not representing the religious minorities neither would be in position to solve their issues. The PPP government has accommodated them creating the Ministry for National Harmony, which is merged into Ministry for Religious Affairs. How would you think that a person having a long beard and a Muslim rigid mind set can represent other religious minorities? This may be a tough one for Nawaz Sharif, and I am pretty sure if he is really serious to show his love for religious minorities, as he mentioned during his election campaign. It is very important for all religions of Pakistan whether Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Parsis to live in peace. Shia and Sunnis and other Muslim sects need to exist in harmony.

 

5-     Denationalize Christians’ institutions: The Missionary schools, Colleges and Hospitals were nationalized during ZA Bhutto regime. During the Parvez Musharraf government few institutions were denationalized so it would be a token of gesture to Christians, the denationalization of rest of the missionary schools, colleges and hospitals in Punjab province.

 

It is not worthy that if the democratic process in any state has to be checked than one must look at how their minorities are treated. No society can aspire to call itself democratic if it systematically excludes specific groups from the full protection of the laws, provision of equal rights and opportunities. 

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Masih

___________________________

© Shamim Masih

Edited by John R. Houk

 

Shamim Masih

Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist 

Secretary General

REAP

Shamim Masih’s Donate/Support info:

 

FOR USD TRANSFER.
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Beneficiary Bank SWIFT BIC :                 JSBLPKKA
Bank A/c # at Intermediary bank :         70008227
Title Of a/c                                Shamim Masih
Beneficiary Account Number :                 405527

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FOR GBP TRANSFER.
Intermediary Bank :                         MASHREQ BANK, LONDON
Intermediary Bank SWIFT BIC :         MSHQGB2L
Beneficiary Bank :                         JS BANK LIMITED
Beneficiary Bank SWIFT BIC :                 JSBLPKKA
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Title Of a/c                                Shamim Masih
Beneficiary Account Number :                 405527
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FOR EURO TRANSFER.
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Intermediary Bank SWIFT BIC :         MSHQGB2L
Beneficiary Bank :                         JS BANK LIMITED
Beneficiary Bank SWIFT BIC :                 JSBLPKKA
Bank A/c # at Intermediary bank :         10847
Title Of a/c                                Shamim Masih
Beneficiary Account Number :                 405527
IBAN #                                        pk80jsbl9530000000405227