by Dr. Mehwish Ghazanfer
Blitz – April 30, 2010
There was sudden silence when she entered the company cafeteria. All that could be heard was the sound of spoons on plates. She greeted everyone with ‘hello’ and a friendly smile, but after noticing the cold faces around her, she rapidly took a seat, totally embarrassed and confused. No one offered her dessert, not even the lady who had made it. I quietly took some of it and presented it to her, trying not to look at the disgusted faces of the people around me. Later, during a literature search in the library where she was working, I could feel her furtive glances in my direction, maybe because I was the only person around who was willing to have a friendly conversation with her.
The reason for the ghastly attitude of those employers of the multinational company where I was doing an internship was that her name was not Fatima, Ayesha and Zainab, but ‘Rakhi’. Her sole awful crime was not to be born in a Muslim family.
Pakistan is a country created for Muslims, not a country created for Islam. While addressing Australian and later American delegations in February 1948, Jinnah clearly stated:
“Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state, to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.”
But the ‘Mullahs’, who have called in the past Quaid-e-Azam “Kafir-e-Azam” (‘Biggest Non-Believer’) and Pakistan “Kafiristan” (‘Land for non believers’), want to impose their self-made ‘shariah’ on this fair country. On the other hand, the people of Pakistan have always ostracized religious fanatics, and whenever given power, they have chosen secular parties as their representatives. But only due to a handful of people there is violence in this country.
Other nations are conquering the stars, while we are indulging in fights about wasteful issues like the size of beard and the occurrence of a “parda” (‘veil’). This atrocious scenario playing itself out in the Muslim world reminds me of the little people of Lilliput and Blefuscu in “Gulliver’s Travels”, who fought gory battles over the question of opening an egg at the small end or at the large end.
On the 11th of August 1947 Jinnah succinctly said:
“Religion, cast or creed have nothing to do with the business of the state.”
In the light of this it is undoubtedly clear, that in the eyes of the constitution of Pakistan, all its citizens are equal, and there should be no place for any bigotry of whatever kind. But in contradiction to this, that same constitution acts as stumbling block for non-Muslims to become head of state. This insulting clause from our constitution shows that minorities in Pakistan are considered second-grade citizens. Non-Muslims in Pakistan are paying a heavy price for living here, and it seems that the days are not far off when the government will start imposing a “jaziah” on them.
An unprejudiced constitution demands that blasphemy laws should be either the same for all religions or should not be there at all. But just because of these laws, non-Muslims are continuously suffering by maliciously being accused of this crime. All citizens should be given equal rights to practice and preach their religion, but in Pakistan non-Muslims can’t openly preach their religion as it is not allowed here. But there seems to be no restriction at all on hateful sermons by Mullahs.
To protect the lives of its citizens, to protect them against the abuses of power and to provide them with dignity is responsibility of the state, and a secular (AKA non-fanatic) state can do that best.
All the religions are based on love and sympathy to humanity. As the result of expunging altruism from our lives, incidents like Gojra will keep occurring, and the innocent hearts of many ‘Rakhis’ will keep breaking, and that is plainly not acceptable, for whatever the reason.
As the Sufi Saint Baba Bullah Shah has said:
“Masjid dha de, mandir dha de
“Dha dey jo kucch dainda
“Par kisi da dil na dhain,
“Rab dilan vich rehnda”
Tear down the mosque and the temple;
break everything in sight.
But do not break a person’s heart,
it is there that God resides