16th December was supposed to be a turning point. The brutal massacre of hundreds of innocent children at APS Peshawar had finally awoken the nation and united our resolve to defeat the real enemy – the jihadi extremists that had killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis since the last ten years. It is almost six months since that black day, and where are we now? The truth is not encouraging.
Pakistanis are known as the most charitable people of the world. We contribute more troops to UN peacekeeping missions than any other country. We have been outspoken leaders on issues of human rights. Despite all of these undeniable facts, there is still an undeniable problem. Hyperopia is the medical term for farsighted, the condition in which a person can see things clearly when they are at a distance, but those same things fall out of focus when they are close up. Therefore our commitment to human rights is undeniable, but I believe it also suffers from this condition hyperopia.
Jibran Nasir was understandably upset and asked why Army was meeting with members of banned militant groups. The question could have been thought to be shouted into the wind, but thankfully it was actually heard and even responded by no less than the officer pictured:
Army was not “meeting” with ASWJ but warning them. ASWJ used the photo with a fake caption as part of their psychological operations to make people doubt their armed forces. It is a classic “divide and rule” strategy, but this time it was failed because the officer who was being defamed was alerted and able to give the correct view. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
Could a similar strategy be taking place with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s shocking statements last week that suggested that India is promoting terrorism in Pakistan?
Our diplomats achieved another notable success this week when the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution tabled by Pakistan on Combating Religious Intolerance and Discrimination. The resolution was presented on behalf of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an international organisation founded in 1969 consisting of 57 member states and has been presented as part of a broader effort to counter Islamophobia. Indeed, the resolution is an impressive achievement and worthy of praise. But we should be asking ourselves whether we are living up to our own demands.
Is is important to understand that the UN did not adopt a resolution condemning Islamophbia, it adopted a resolution condemning religious discrimination and intolerance. A full copy of the resolution is linked here so you can read it yourself.
It is worth noting that section 1 of the resolution:
“Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes about religious groups, in particular when condoned by Governments…”
This could easily be considered a description of the situation in Pakistan. Setting aside for the moment the issue of terrorist attacks and target killings, before any shot is even fired there is “derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief.” Anti-Ahmedi conferences are held regularly which project hate and incite violence based on their belief.
Shia too are not only openly killed, but are openly defamed and stereotyped by groups like ASWJ that operate with impunity and some believe the support of the state.
The resolution tabled by Pakistan’s diplomats and approved by the United Nations is deserving of praise. Now it is time to prove whether our words are hollow.
Pakistan Rangers raid on MQM headquarters in Karachi has taken over the national discussion. By Wednesday afternoon there were no less than four different hashtags related to the raid trending on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, attitudes are divided about whether the raid was a positive or negative. I find myself in the second camp, not because of any love for MQM but because I think the action will do more harm to democracy and the armed forces than it will against any criminal elements hiding in 90.