Minorities and the state | Pakistan Today

Minorities and the state

Eyes wide shut!


The thought that poor Sharoon Masih’s cruel death reaching the august National Assembly might bring about some change, however delayed, for minorities in the future is self defeating. The House roared after Mashal Khan was lynched also, way back on Apr13, yet here we are again. And it is not as if this is the only such incident since then. Each time the media frenzy is followed by a political circus, only to be repeated after a short break.

It is after all the state’s responsibility to provide not just security, but also equal opportunity, to all minorities, as some lawmakers argued on Tuesday. Yet for decades we have hosted and tolerated deliberate, targeted butchery of minorities – ethnic as well as sectarian – and the state has not bothered to move beyond empty rhetoric. For far too long those in charge have turned a blind eye to societal, racial and religious hatred taught in our schools and amplified by popular media. The fact that Muslim boys beat a Christian class fellow to death for drinking out of the same glass ought to rattle the government from top to bottom. It shows how fast the rot at the core of our society is growing.

For some reason the government is still dragging its feet regarding the national narrative that the National Action Plan (NAP) mandated to be at the forefront of the fight against terror. For a while it was believed elements sympathetic to the religious right might be responsible for the delay. But as everybody united behind Zarb-e-Azb and Rudd-ul-Fasad, there were expectations that the government will finally take the initiative in the battle for hearts and minds. And it would, as a matter of preference, throw away the bigotry that was institutionally installed in us over decades. That process, unfortunately, has not even begun. And till the government comes round to it, it should be held responsible for every Mashal Khan and Sharoon Masih that becomes the victim of somebody’s religious bias.

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