PTI’s robust defence of Dr Atif Mian – who has been appointed to the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) – is welcome and sends the right message to extremists trying to take the national narrative hostage at this sensitive stage in the country’s history. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary did the right thing by pointing out, for those who might have forgotten, that “Pakistan belongs to minorities just as much as it belongs to the majority.” He was also spot on in reminding everybody of the Quaid’s first choice as Pakistan’s foreign minister, Sir Zafar Ullah, whose hard work won him much respect at home and abroad.
According to latest reports Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was not quite impressed by the information minister’s clarification and asked, once again, for the removal of Dr Atif Mian from the EAC as well as sacking of the information minister (for defending an Ahmedi, of course). How the new government handles this confrontation will be instructive, not the least since PTI’s core leadership has been known for its many soft spots for religious outfits; especially the more controversial ones. But now that the government has taken a definitive position on the matter, it is unlikely to budge.
There is an urgent need, needless to say, for moderates to reclaim the social space so brutally snatched away by extremists over the last two decades or two. Since the hardliners were, more often than not, backed by the might of the establishment, it is little wonder that the liberal, progressive section of society eventually decided to sit back quietly as the more extremist factions spread their wings far and wide. Now, though, with all the promises around Naya Pakistan – not to mention encouraging examples like PTI defending its Ahmedi advisor – there might be a genuine chance for minorities, wronged for ever so long, to reassert themselves and reclaim their rights.
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