Sindh Senior Minister Zulfikar Mirza’s recent statement against mohajirs this week was beyond the pale and has no place in politics. But rather than react in anger, we should take this opportunity to reflect on a poison that plagues politics and hold us back from realising our potential. The poison I’m speaking of is, of course, the prejudice and bigotry that continues to divide us against ourselves.
To his credit, President Zardari is taking the member of his party to task, summoning him to the presidency and publicly scolding him in the press.
“The president has asked Mr Mirza to suspend his political engagements in Sindh and immediately come to the presidency,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
President Zardari is reported to have been annoyed by the statement in which Mr Mirza made derogatory remarks against MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
“The Pakistan People`s Party has already disowned the statement and called upon its ranks to show restraint in public statements,” the spokesman said.
Unfortunately, Mirza’s act is not unusual. Who can forget Altaf Hussain’s speech making fun of Punjabis?
Or can we forget PML-N politicians objecting to cabinet member Kamran Michael presenting the budget on grounds that he is Christian?
No, it is not one politician or one political party. Sadly, it has become a weapon to be pulled out when the speaker has no ideas worth giving. It is then that he can only resort to the lowest forms of attack against his fellow countrymen. It is a strategy of divide and conquer, and it has no place. Politics should be a battle of ideas, not a war of words.
After his outburst, Zulfiqar Mirza has given an apology which was published in the media. This is a good step, but it does not excuse his behaviour. The most important point is that such hate speech should never exist in the first place. The differences between us are not our weakness, but our strength. Diversity is what holds the name of our great nation together. Or have we forgotten the words of Chaudhry Rahmat Ali who was one of the earliest proponents of the creation of the state of Pakistan. He is credited with creating the name “Pakistan” for a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia:
At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan.