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Minorities in Pakistan vs India

Reema Shaukat

The month of August carries special significance for Pakistanis when they got independence and separate homeland for Muslims where they can live independently and practice religious beliefs. An important point to note is that at the time of partition not only Muslims, but people from different religious backgrounds chose to migrate to Pakistan, the reason being Pakistan was created on the name of religion where every individual was allowed to practice his religious beliefs and many non-Muslims thus paved their path towards Pakistan. Today Pakistan is the country on the world map where many minorities are living peacefully and Muslims as majority to whom religion teaches tolerance, peace and empathy.
In Pakistan many communities are living and it is part of our constitution that though Pakistan is an Islamic state, yet it gives all basic human rights and freedom to minorities in Pakistan. Flag of Pakistan is not complete without these minorities. White part depicts the existence of minorities in Pakistan. Unfortunately during the past few years when religious extremism has amplified and intolerance and terrorism increased, minorities in Pakistan were also not exempted. Their places of worship were targeted to create distrust among believers of different faiths.
Similarly it wasn’t about just followers of other religions but sectarian based violence created lot of cynicism and pessimism among believers of same religion. Sectarian violence gave new shape to terrorism and miscreants used it as an effective tool to build up chaos among government and people. Pakistan being an Islamic Republic, does not mean that it is only for Muslims. It gives all rights and privileges to different sects living in country though propaganda is always on to malign and defame country. The interfaith harmony and peace building aims to foster religious and social harmony and help develop a diverse society in Pakistan in which people of different beliefs can live together in peace and exercise their basic human rights. Interfaith dialogue, peace building skills and participating in different events of other religions will not only help in promoting tolerance and respecting each other’s faith but definitely it is going to provide insights and build positive image of country.
All religions of the world taught peace, love, tolerance and respect for humanity and stressed the need for dialogue among different religions and civilizations for promoting harmony and tranquillity. In Pakistan, National Minorities Day is observed every year in the month of August to honour the services and sacrifices, rendered by religious minorities for the country over the years. The Government of Pakistan declared 11 August as National Minority Day in 2009. This day also recognizes the contribution and sacrifices of minorities in creation of Pakistan and nation-building. On this occasion, events, seminars and social gatherings being arranged across the country by members of various religious minorities. It has always been the endeavour of the Government to safeguard fundamental rights, safety, security, honour, life, liberty and prosperity of minorities in line with the historic speech of founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah at the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947.
The other side of the story is quite painful when we see that India and Pakistan both states got independence at the same time but minorities living in India are bound to survive in miserable conditions where they are not allowed to practice their religious beliefs. Over the years religious fanaticism has reached a peak in India and minorities are worst to suffer. Kashmir saga is left aside when even the Muslims living in India are destined to suffocate under present India’s quest for saffronization. Muslims who chose to stay in India say that today’s secular India has definitely turned into an intolerant and stifling place where one cannot offer prayers or practice religious beliefs. Dilemma doesn’t remain towards one particular minority but to all. Apart from Muslims and Christians another minority which struggled most for their existence is Sikh community.
In past incidents like forced conversions to Hinduism with a name of program as Ghar Wapsi, was to counter Love Jihad campaign, inhumane treatment with Dalits considering them as the worst class in India, ban on cow slaughter, killing many Muslims in the name of religion and false allegations of eating beef. So, there is much sectarian hatred in India which is often portrayed in forms of violence and brutality. The extremist organizations are promoting saffronization of India by brain washing youth mind-sets such as making compulsory education of Geeta, Maha Bharat and Hindu literature for Muslims in educational institutions. Once a report released by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission mentioned immoderations against religious minorities in India is a continuous marvel by using violence and disavowal of constitutional rights as the main tricks by Hindu extremists. Theoretically, Indian Constitution protects the rights of minorities, but Hindu majority led by BJP has shown complete disrespect to it and commit brutalities against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits with liberty. India knows that minorities living in Pakistan have complete religious freedom and they are facilitated whenever there is any procession or sacred festival. Particularly every year number of times Sikhs from India visit Pakistan as they have their most Holy sites located here in Pakistan
Since last year’s August situation which has developed in Kashmir, shows that surely Kashmir struggle will end up in triumph for Kashmiris. They can see history repeating itself before partition where struggle by Muslims and Jinnah brought independent homeland for Muslims in form of Pakistan and so does this Kashmir intifada seems to be another success story for Pakistan and Kashmir. India must review its policies in order to be called as democratic or secular India, otherwise minorities will definitely stand up for their rights some day and it will be too late for Hindustan to realize that it’s no more a de facto country.

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