Rising intolerance in India is no secret. Lynchings of Muslims by Hindu extremists have made international headlines, and the world has taken notice of Modi’s unwillingness to show sensitivity to his country’s minorities. So when Amir Khan said that he too felt alarmed by the growing incidents and even his wife had asked if they should move, it should have come as no surprise. However, the reaction – both here and in India – tells a lot.
In India, Amir Khan has been termed a traitor by right-wing hyper-nationalists, with even Shah Rukh Khan thrown in for good measure. In Pakistan, however, Amir Khan is being treated at a martyr who is being persecuted for doing nothing but telling the truth. This is the correct response, and it should also come as no surprise except when we remember how we treat our own Amir Khans.
The list is a long one: Asma Jahangir, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Marvi Sirmed, Hamid Mir, Husain Haqqani, Raza Rumi, Mama Qadeer…the list goes on and one. Anyone who dares to stand up for Ahmadis, question Army’s actions in Balochistan or support for jihadi groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or apologises for treatment of Bengalis before 1971 is branded as a traitor and threatened with their lives. Are we hypocrites? Or can we not see that we are acting exactly like the Hindu extremists we claim to be against?
Response to Allegations by Express TV.
A number of accusations have been made against me on Express TV by the anchor Ahmed Quraishi. I would like to put on record that these accusations are completely false and constitute incitement to violence, hate speech, slander, and libel.
On 24th April, Pakistan lost another brave daughter. Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead in the street while leaving T2F in Karachi where she had just finished leading a discussion on Balochistan. Sabeen’s mother was walking with her and she too was caught in the hail of bullets and now struggles for her life. This latest killing has shocked the nation’s conscience…or has it? Many liberals on social media have condemned the attack and placed the blame on state agencies. This was responded by others who protested that these are unfair accusations being cast with complete lack of evidence. While it is too soon to know for certain who was behind Sabeen’s murder, this cowardly act is the perfect time to talk about the role of state terrorism.
The cancellation of a talk on Balochistan at LUMS, allegedly on orders of ISI, has raised a significant outcry across the country. As has been pointed out by many analysts, the state’s decision to ban the event has probably given the issue much more publicity than it would have received had it been allowed to go forward without comment. Some of those who support the decision to cancel the event have taken to pointing to the case of PTI MNA Asad Umar whose talk at LUMS was also canceled. However, this comparison ignores several important differences.
The state’s hypocrisy is on bright display once again this week following two seemingly unrelated incidents that actually have important factors in common. The first is the cancellation of a discussion on Balochistan at LUMS, allegedly under orders of ISI. The demand that LUMS cancel the discussion was believed to be based on the inclusion of Mama Qadeer, a Baloch activist and founder of a group working on the issue of missing persons believed to have been abducted or killed by intelligence agencies. Cases of missing persons have been languishing in courts as ISI often refuses to comply with court orders.
The complaint about the LUMS lecture is that it was promoting separatists. Leaving aside questions about academic freedom, free speech, and whether or not engaging the separatists and listening to their concerns is a more realistic way of solving the crisis than trying to silence and intimidate them, there is another problem with the decision to ban speeches by separatists: We have a state policy of supporting separatists.