Pakistan At It Again

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is at it once again! The Pakistani Prime Minister commented on the way minorities in India live in. The preposterous charge is an egregious insult to all Indians and totally out of sync with the harmonious existence of Indian citizens irrespective of their religious beliefs. Moreover, it comes from a man who is head of government of a theocratic state.

Indian government and all Indians have criticised Mr. Khan’s remarks. The ministry of external affairs said,“Pakistan’s Prime Minister has yet again demonstrated his lack of understanding about India’s secular polity and ethos. He overlooks the obvious fact that adherents of all faiths choose to live under the democratic polity and the progressive Constitution of India”. India added, “Pakistan would do well to focus on its domestic challenges and improve conditions of its citizens rather than try and divert attention”.

The comments by the Pakistan Prime Minister cannot be glossed over and attributed to his ignorance about India. The lack of understanding on the part of Mr. Imran Khan is clear. Indians know the that Imran Khan as a charismatic cricketer once; had toured India many times and played all across the country. Indian people have great respect for sportspersons, irrespective of their nationality. So, the absurd charge of Mr. Khan has indeed hurt many Indians.

The Pakistan Prime Minister would do well to recall that in his country which was created on religious lines has no place for minorities. It is well known that minority communities in Pakistan have to adopt the way the majority population lives. Else, they would not be a part of the country’s society. The term ‘minority’ in Pakistan has many connotations; it could be religious, linguistic, and ethnic down to even the way people in Pakistan dress!

Mr. Khan would also remember that one of his greatest admirers Gen. Zia-ul-Haq had banned Pakistani women from wearing ‘sarees’. This was apparently done; as the then Pakistan President felt that the saree was a foreign dress. There were huge protests in Pakistan following this ‘fatwa’

Linguistic minorities like the Sindhis and Balochis are left out of the ambit of development agenda of the country. The Punjab-Sindh rivalry is there since times immemorial. The speakers of Sindhi language, which is one of the oldest languages in the world, are discriminated upon.

Same is the case with the Baloch. The Balochis do not consider themselves Pakistanis; hence they are treated contemptuously by the Pakistani government.

Mr. Khan needs to explain to the world, how his government capitulated to a fundamentalist organization ‘Tehreek-e-Labbaik-Pakistan’, when they had laid a siege on the twin cities of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, last year following the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, the Christian lady who spent more than a decade in jail on trumped up ‘blasphemy’ charges. It is only a couple of weeks since the review petition against her acquittal was thrown out by the Pakistan Supreme Court.  There are reports that she and her family may have sought asylum in some other country as Pakistan could not offer her security. Aasia Bibi’s lawyer has taken refuge in the Netherlands since last year, as he was targeted by the fundamentalist lobby for defending his client.

So, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s hollow remarks should be dismissed. India is a country that is founded on the precepts of democracy, equality and fraternity. Every Indian is guaranteed the right of worship or faith by the Constitution of India. No Indian faces any discrimination over language, food-habits or dress. Mr. Khan knows this pretty well; but the rough and tumble of Pakistani politics makes him utter such diatribes against India.

In about a year since Mr. Khan took office as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, his promise of developing a ‘naya’ (new) Pakistan has fallen by the way side. Islamabad has been shunned by its erstwhile allies like the US. It is being handed out ‘doles’ by countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and China for its financial woes. Yet, politicking against India continues unabated.

Mr. Imran Khan could do well to remember the saying that ‘those who stay in glass houses should not throw stones at others’.

Script: Kaushik Roy, AIR: Strategic Affairs Analyst