SOUTH Asia has had few opportunities to celebrate its diversity. Instead, what we have heard are voices of concern about the treatment of minorities in the region. At Tuesday’s Regional Conference on the Rights of Religious Minorities in South Asia, held in Islamabad, speakers deplored the treatment meted out to marginalised religious communities in South Asia. A speaker from India said the way Hindus treated Muslims in his country was linked to the Pakistani penchant for going after the minority Hindu community. He was happy to note that people belonging to all religions believed in Mahatma Gandhi. But unfortunately, little appears to have been said about how putting faith in the non-violent Mahatma is useful for the targeted. A Pakistani Hindu was of the view that Pakistan was as much his country as anybody else’s. Yet the reality could be gauged from his account of cases of unending persecution of Pakistan’s Hindus. In much the same vein, a Pakistani Christian talked of his community’s contribution to the country’s progress — but eventually it is the sad comparison the present offers with the past that puts the national journey in doubt. The Mahatmas, the rights activists and the natural instinct for tolerance notwithstanding, the picture is dismal overall.

One consensus coming out of the meeting was that all religions abhor violence. The special reference to Islam was unavoidable given how its name has been used for a violent cleansing exercise from Tirah to Timbuktu. That point inevitably leads to reflections about the protective and trendsetting roles of the state which, today, is quite inseparable from religion. “No non-Muslim ambassador or federal secretary ... Hindus barred from the atomic energy commission…” — the state has, in fact, failed its minorities, and failed to set an example of tolerance for all its people.

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Comments (7)

Iftikhar Husain
July 5, 2012 11:02 am
The muslims with in themselves cannot agree and show voilence with each other when it comes to other minorities they were all came out from majorities. It is the duty of the religous leadersto preach the peace among all human beings.
ahmed41
July 6, 2012 5:19 am
Will some one please speak for the RIGHT of the HAZARAS to live as a peaceful peoples
Jutt
July 5, 2012 11:42 am
My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the "Regional Conference on the Rights of Religious Minorities" for taking into account minorities in South Asia. All religions existing in South Asia objectively foster peace, tolerance, harmony and order towards others and promote LIFE. Its diverse cultures, religions, rituals, literature, music and art add beauty to its existence and contribute to attract tourists. South Asia is home to half of the world's poor. We are to go ahead, live with peace and respect for one another beyond any caste, color, creed or religion in order to promote peace, respect, human values, equality, prosperity and end poverty, terrorism, ignorance and intolerance. We are to bury the hatchet, resolve our problems indulging into dialogue with one another for dialogue is the key to peace and prosperity. We are to give each one's dues so that all enjoy the blessings of our land and the gift of life. MAY WE ALL BE ONE! JUTT
Siddique Malik
July 5, 2012 8:38 pm
It was ironic that that a meeting on the plight of minorities in South Asia was held in Pakistan. Pakistan is the region’s only country whose constitution discriminates against non-Muslim Pakistanis. Generally, Pakistanis love to justify their shortcoming by pointing out that India has similar shortcomings, but they never point out India’s strengths. In some areas, India is ahead of even America and other Western democracies. India has had three Muslim presidents, and a Sikh one. India’s current president is a woman. India’s current prime minister is a Sikh and the leader of its ruling party is a foreign-born, white, Christian woman. Of course, India has its shares of bigots – no country of the world is completely free of bigotry – but at least, at the statutory level, India treats all its citizens equally. Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
Jutt
July 5, 2012 11:31 am
My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the "Regional Conference on the Rights of Religious Minorities" for taking into account the rights of religious minorities in South Asia. All of the religions existing in South Asia objectively foster peace, tolerance, harmony and order towards others and promote LIFE. Its diverse cultures, religions, rituals, literature, ,music and art adds beauty to its existence and contributes to attract tourists. According to a report by the World Bank in 2012, "with a population of some 1.4 billion, South Asia is home to half of the world's poor. We are to go ahead, live with peace and respect for one another beyond any caste, color, creed or religion in order to promote peace, respect, human values, equality, prosperity and end poverty, terrorism, ignorance and intolerance. We are to bury the hatchet, resolve our problems indulging into dialogue with one another for dialogue is the key tp peace and prosperity. We are to give each one's dues so that all enjoy the blessings of our land and the gift of life. MAY WE ALL BE ONE! JUTT
Kabir
July 5, 2012 4:54 am
A country can never progress where minorities are illtreated as it shows the lack of justice, equity, compassion, tolerence and humanity. Every different culture, community and relegion add strength to the thinking pattern. Non existence of different ideas is a sign of backwardness.
Azam
July 5, 2012 3:55 pm
While it is true that the treatment of minorities in Pakistan is far form ideal, the assertion that Hindu targeting of and discrimination against Muslims in India is linked to the former is clearly incorrect. Pakistan had nothing to do with the 1000s killed in Gujarat and in the aftermath of the Ayodhya mosque destruction. Furthermore, designating residential buildings as "vegitarian only" as well as other forms of anti-Muslim discrimination in India have very deep roots and cannot be linked with what is happening in Pakistan.
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