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Home Media Reports 2008 EDITORIAL: Myth of minorities’ protection
EDITORIAL: Myth of minorities’ protection
Daily Times
Monday, June 23, 2008

EDITORIAL: Myth of minorities’ protection

There are very few who would like to prevent Pakistan from violating its own Constitution that gives equal rights to its minority communities.

The ANP government is challenged by the outlaw militants of the Tribal Areas and their followers in Peshawar and has vowed to fight back to protect the city. But while the resolve is still in the process of being strengthened, a gang of “bearded youth with long hair” has kidnapped around 20 Christians of Banaras Town and savagely beaten up the rest. The Christians were gathered at a charity dinner and had no idea that they would be accused of “bad behaviour”. The Taliban left a message behind: “Christian population should mend its ways”. This is a fresh reminder for Pakistanis that Pakistan’s dirt-poor Christians have been killed in the past to avenge the killings of Muslims at the hands of American “Christians” elsewhere in the world.

Banaras Town or Banarasabad has 350 Christian families that go back in history. Peshawar itself is a kind of melting pot of nationalities and Muslim sects. The act of attacking the poorest section of the citizens of Pakistan was dastardly in the extreme. The terrorists, arriving in half a dozen brand new SUVs and as many pick-ups, failed to see the moral contrast of what they were doing. A fully armed gang had attacked the most disadvantaged section of the city. It would be a cruel joke if the 20 abductees are kept as hostages to the demand that the Americans should leave Afghanistan. Peshawar city has seen maltreatment of its non-Muslims at the hands of its “pious” extremists in the past, but this is the most shameful example of how the city has lost control over itself and finds itself in a state of siege even as it parleys with the Taliban for a “peace” deal.

But why should we single out the NWFP? Punjab has had the dubious distinction of staging the most gruesome attacks on the life and property of the country’s constitutionally protected citizens. Under the jurisdiction of the last government, Sangla Hill saw the wholesale destruction of the places of worship of the local Christians after one Christian was accused — you have guessed it — of “desecrating the Quran and insulting the Holy Prophet PBUH”. As the government — which boasted a mismatch of ideology with its patron President Pervez Musharraf — acted against the vandals with painful unwillingness, fire-breathing clerics from Lahore swooped down on Sangla Hill and saved the culprits from punishment under law.

Faisalabad has the distinction of being the scene of the self-immolation of Bishop John Jacob after the conviction for blasphemy of an innocent Christian. It outdid itself again when on June 5, 2008, the principal of Punjab Medical College, one Mr Randhava, rusticated 23 Ahmedi boy and girl students from college and ordered them out of the college hostel “with immediate effect”. His decision was triggered by the campaign of some one thousand students of the college demanding their expulsion. The zealots encircled the principal’s office and he, instead of calling in the administration, got rid of the minority students just because they were accused, falsely, of trying to proselytise on the college premises. The agitation came from students belonging to organisations like Muslim Students Federation (MSF), Islami Jamiat-e Tulaba (IJT) and Anjuman Tulaba-e Islam (ATI). Some politically “non-aligned” students joined the siege for the sake of their own safety and also for the “empowerment” which the weak enjoy by joining the strong offenders these days. The rustication order read: “Due to the religious dispute, hate material distribution and on recommendation of the college disciplinary committee, the following students are rusticated from the college as well as hostel roll under Rule III clause-V of the college prospectus with immediate effect to maintain the law and order situation in the college and hostel premises”.

The students clashed on the basis of religion. The Ahmedi students tore down the Sunni poster against their faith and were threatened. The police arrived. Governor Punjab activated the administration. A committee has been formed of three teachers of the College to find out what really happened. But everyone in the College says it would be impossible to reinstate the expelled Ahmedi students. According to a student, as quoted in a newspaper report: “The College has a very rich history (sic!) of curbing this fitna (evil). In the 1974 movement against the Ahmedis, the College played a very important role. Some of our teachers, who were then students of the College, took an active part in that movement. We are once again ready to lead such a movement if the Ahmedi students are allowed to come back to the College”.

Up in Peshawar, the state has lost most of its writ; down in Faisalabad, the dominant sect wants to finish off an apostatised minority. There are very few who would like to prevent Pakistan from violating its own Constitution that gives equal rights to its minority communities. *

Source :\06\23\story_23-6-2008_pg3_1
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