Since the creation of Pakistan by the Muslim League and the receding British monarchy, it has become a failed state in every way. Despite its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s speech on August 11, 1947 about starting an era of no discrimination or distinction between communities, castes, or creeds, the tall claim of equal citizens of the newly-formed state was a hogwash.
There has been a constant turmoil in every province of Pakistan since Partition. Pakistan, created by Punjabi Sunni elite upper class Muslims from Uttar Pradesh, has never accepted the equality of their minorities or their counterparts from Bengal (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh). The country’s second Partition in 1971 was primarily along the ethno-linguistic lines as the Bengalis were dissatisfied by the hegemony of West Pakistan, specifically the Punjabis.
The UN has time and again hit out at Islamabad over human rights violations, terrorism activities and treatment of minorities in Pakistan, thus directly responsible for delayed peace in South Asia. A country lecturing India on its administration of Jammu and Kashmir and the status of Indian Muslims today, it never reflects on how its minorities are treated, charged on minor and false allegations leading to punishments like death penalty.
Even the notorious blasphemy laws, in most cases, are used to fulfill personal vendetta or property disputes — the victims arrested, presumed guilty without proper investigations and trials.
Pakistan has a deviant practice of forcibly converting and marrying non-Muslim minority members. The forced conversions and forced marriages of women are symbiotic and clearly, it is not the men undergoing pressure or needing protection.
The Pakistan People’s Party, during its tenure, declared August 11 as National Minorities Day with the aim of acknowledging the contribution of religious minorities. Unfortunately, it has never been celebrated at the national or provincial level. Pakistan is home to millions of non-Muslims now; however, it is feared by the minority groups that there may not be any left in a few years’ time. The government constantly speaks of minority rights and there is even a national day to acknowledge the contributions of non-Muslims.
Pakistan always tries to wash away its stigma of being a pro-terrorist country before the world community. The idea of opening the Kartarpur Corridor was also hatched to improve its image and mislead Sikhs around the world.
But Pakistan holds a guilty attitude towards minorities. Hindus and Sikhs are infidels and persecution of infidels is like ‘charity’ for Islamic fundamentalists. Value of Sikhs in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that a nine-foot tall statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh established at Lahore Imperial Fort has been broken thrice by the extremists. Statistically, around 109,404 acres of agricultural land and 46,499 acres of built-up urban sub-units belonging to temples and gurdwaras are occupied by politically influential people or the land mafia.
Pakistan has formed this committee/governmental body to govern gurdwaras with the sole intent to showcase to the world that they possess a soft corner for the Sikh minority and are true saviors of Sikhism. But Pakistan will never allow any committee to hold independent rights and speak for their community freemanship. All the religious organizations are ultimately forced to work under the states of Muslim hegemony.
What can be discerned is that the Pakistan government does take steps to ensure Jinnah’s speech is upheld and the country presents a pluralistic image to the world, but the ground realities keep bursting this PR campaign with violations documented through videos, and high-profile cases in the international media regarding blasphemy trials for Christians, disappearances of journalists and harassment of their family members, even targeted assassinations of dissidents working for a democratic Pakistan.
It will remain to be seen how much Pakistan does to undo the damage of the deleterious effects of instrumentalising religion and Islam during the Afghan Jihad against Soviet occupation in 1979 and later the US-led war against terrorism.
Pakistan’s constant efforts to thwart India’s right to protection of minorities who seek the haven of a pluralistic land that has given refuge to not just the Prophet’s family, but also Zoroastrians (Parsis) persecuted for their beliefs in ancient times continuing with the Tibetans, Balochis, Rohingyas and others.
Its disinformation against the CAA and the NRC efforts of the ruling party of India shows its insecurity about its minority population adopting the fatherland from where it was carved.