Standing for the rights of minorities is increasingly becoming a hard task for the progressive circles of Pakistan. Intolerant circles are now targeting the parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Khawaja Asif, who said on the floor of the house a fe days ago that “no religion is superior in the constitution”. He has been facing trolling, hate speech and a possible reference to de-seat him from the National Assembly in the past few days. Even though the constitution names the country the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Islam its state religion, it is equally stressed in the Article 3 of the Constitution that “The State shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfillment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability, to each according to his work”. It is heartening to see that Khawaja Asif has stood by his words he said last week in the National Assembly about the rights of minorities, as he has echoed the philosophy of the Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the constitution. This newspaper has always condemned exploitation of religion for political gains and the members of some parties issuing statements against Khawaja Asif should be condemned for their irresponsible and wrong act. They should be reminded of Islam’s golden principles regarding minorities’ treatment. It is the high time all parties, regardless of their ideological stand, supported the PML-N lawmaker and encouraged the government as well the public to take measures to mainstream the minorities by ensuring rights of the minorities enshrined in the Constitution. Parliamentarians need to be more vocal on this front.
Over the years, minorities’ rights have been gathering controversy under planned campaigns. Our part of the world has become an intolerant society. The journey towards extremism started after the 1980s under the Zia rule and since then extremism has damaged the fabrics of our thinking and society. Now, the extremist circle cannot tolerate the visit of a governor to a Christian prisoner, who has now been acquitted of blasphemy charge. Social media activists run amok after the reports of the planned construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad. We conveniently forget that there is a church in Boston, the US, where Muslims regularly offer Friday prayers. Our society will evolve if we set such examples in Pakistan and this can happen only if we follow the constitution under which everyone has equal rights irrespective of their religion. *