By Sajjad Shaukat
There is no doubt that religious fundamentalists who target the minority groups exist, even in the west, but case of Pakistan and India is of special consideration as some foreign elements have launched an unilateral campaign against Islamabad in this respect.
Since 9/11 tragedy, by manipulating the phenomena of world terrorism and anti-Muslim approach of the west, both India and Israel have been availing this golden opportunity to achieve their covert goals by continuously trying to convince the US-led western states through a propaganda campaign that religious minorities are not safe in Pakistan. Besides Indo-Israeli lobbies, the so-called NGOs and media have also been contributing to heighten the currents of world politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam, especially focusing Pakistan.
In this context, anti-Islamic approach of some western media could be judged from caricatures about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), published in the European press in 2006 and were defended by most of their citizens in the name of freedom of expression. In the recent past, release of a Dutch film against the Holy Quran and the insane act of pastor Wayne Sapp in Florida, who burned a copy of the Holy Quran under the supervision of the evangelical preacher Terry Jones hurt the feelings of the Muslims all over the world. In this context, in response, Islamic fundamentalists attacked the churches in Pakistan, killing two Christians. This is what these external elements wanted by distorting the image of Pakistan regarding minorities of the country. Some other incidents of assaults on Christian community and their churches also took place in Pakistan in the aftermath of 9/11 because Indo-Israeli extremist groups were behind these events.
In this connection, some rare events against the minorities are taken by some western and Indian media which fully exploit them to malign Pakistan. For example, on November 7 this year, three Hindus in Shikarpur in Sindh were killed by some Muslim fanatics in relation to maltreatment of a girl. The incident was unilaterally manipulated by the Indian and western media as they gave no coverage to the protest of progressive Muslims of Sindh and civil society organizations of the area, calling the murder, an extremist effort to destroy Sindh’s secular fabric. Without any discrimination, police arrested 11 suspects. Similarly, on January 5, 2010, an Ahmadi leader Muhammad Yousaf was shot dead by sectarian zealots in Karachi. On May 28, 2011 armed assaults on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore killed more than 70 people. In May, 2009, India-backed militants had taken over the shops and homes of the 35 Sikh families in the Orakzai Agency in Pakistan. While playing a double game, a few days after, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had shown his concern over the maltreatment of the Sikhs.
However, we cannot see these incidents against religious minorities in isolation as these are part of overall subversive acts such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, ethnic and sectarian violence—assaults on mosques, shrines including Sufis and Muslim religious leaders in Pakistan. With the tactical support of American CIA, these tragic incidents are deliberately arranged by secret agencies like Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad in order to destabilize Pakistan which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Pakistan’s major city, Karachi and province of Balochistan have become special focus of such terror-attacks where besides Muslims; foreign-supported agents also target the persons of non-Muslim groups. For instance, in Balochistan, these external elements which back the Baloch separatists who have kidnapped and killed a number of non-Balochi-particularly Punjabis have also done the same against some Christians, Hindus and Sikhs as part of the covert war against Islamabad.
Nevertheless, India which claims an arch secular state has surprised the world because of continued attacks on other minorities especially Christians, Muslims and Sikhs.
Unlike the previous similar tragic events, Christian persecution rose to new heights in the state of Karnataka after the BJP came to power in February 2006. Attacks on Christian holidays became common in the state like other regions. On the Christmas Eve of 2007, Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) fundamentalists led a series of violent assaults on Christians and their property in Orissa, state’s Kandhamal district, killing eight Christians and razing at least 800 houses and 100 churches. In one of the events, in March, 2008, more than 150 intolerant nationalist Hindus stormed two Easter Sunday services and beat at least 16 Christians including two pastors in Bangalore and in Shimoga district. However, attacks on Christians, their property and places of worship have continued by the Hindu mobs in Orissa, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other areas. In one of the incidents, at least 60 Christians were assassinated by Hindu fanatics in the state of Orissa, and a Christian center defaced by Hindu extremists in December 2010.
Before almost every assault, the mob of the Hindu extremist groups, RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal, armed with bamboo poles, sticks and rods, while beating drums, shout slogans in Hindi—he “who talks in favour of only Hindus will rule the nation.”
Besides, anti-Muslim move is permanent feature of India’s secular terrorism as besides other incidents, destruction of the Babri Mosque in 1992, genocide of more than 2500 Muslims in Gujrat show. In both cases, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had charged the state administration for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacre” and demolition of the historical mosque, pointing out numerous police officials—specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the Hindu fundamentalist parties, VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.
In 2007, Samjhota express, a train in which a majority of Muslims travel was bombed by the Hindu terrorists who brunt alive 69 Pakistanis. In that respect, Indian serving Lt. Col. Purohit was arrested who confessed that he was involved in the tragedy, and providing Hindu extremists with the military-grade explosive RDX.
In Maharashtra, non-Hindu communities have lived in constant fear and awe since the advent of the fundamentalist party, Shiv Sena whose Chief Bal Thackeray has organised army of hoodlums to beat up any religious minority, openly directing the Hindu terrorists to loot and stone any of their shop or house. Silence of the subsequent governments on every challenge of Shiv Sena and lack of serious action against Thackeray’s vandalism have clearly defeated the secular echoes of India which is in fact a secular terroist state.
It is of particular attention that Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has officially acknowledged in its report in August, 2011 that innocent kashmiris killed in the two-decade conflict had been buried in unmarked graves. Indian Commission’s report indicated that about 3000 unidentified bodies were found in mass graves in three northern mountainous regions of Kashmir. Before this admission, Indian high officials have been emphasising that all these bodies were of militant fighters.
It is mentionable that in 1984 during the Operation Blue Star launched on the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, Indian military had broken all the records of insanity and brutality by massacring several Sikhs and their leader. After the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, three thousands innocent Sikhs were killed by the Hindus, while Indian police was watching silently.
While, unlike India, all the minorities such as Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Budahists enjoy fundamental rights in Pakistan. There are about 2.8 million of Christians, enjoying all the rights of citizenry in Pakistan, having 93 churches. Pakistan which came into existence on the basis of Islamic principles to provide respect and protection to all the segments of society is giving full safety to Christians—ensuring equal rights to all the minorities as mentioned in the Constitution. Besides other minority groups, particularly Christians are not only serving in the armed forces, but also working in other departments. Without any discrimination by the Muslims, they also run their own business and are working in private sectors.
It is due to the fact that majority of Muslims in Pakistan are enlightened moderate and progressive, providing conducive environment to the society, therefore, Christians have made outstanding contributions to the Pakistani national life.
On the other side, the ideology of Hindutva is being encouraged by the Indian government officials—appointment of extremist Hindus in top positions in various institutes, and alteration of courses in accordance with the Hindu ideology have reflected the intentions of the BJB and the Congress rulers.
It is unfortunate that US-led some western countries are silent over the maltreatment of minorities in India, led by Hindu fundamentalist parties which have official support of the Indian rulers, while there is much foreign propaganda against Pakistan on minor issues, relating to minority groups. In other words, particularly America is encouraging Hindu terrorism due to its secret strategic interests in the region.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations