PAKISTAN has been in the forefront of efforts to call global attention to the matter of Islamophobia in the West. And that is absolutely the right thing to do. We, the members of Pakistani diaspora, also complain about racism, about how hard-working Pakistanis living abroad are subjected to discrimination and abuse, and how they are considered retrogressive and backward. We keep trying to project a soft image of Pakistan and of Islam. We keep telling people that Islam is a religion of peace and love, that Pakistan is basically a liberal society, that there is no discrimination against foreigners and minorities, and that people should visit the country and see it for themselves.
But then happen some event, like what took place in Sialkot recently, that wipes out our words and we struggle to bridge the gap between our words and the actions of our people back home.
A huge crowd stood by while a Sri Lankan manager was murdered by a wild mob. Hardly anyone intervened. Many took snaps and made videos on their cellphones and circulated them in a frenzy.
So what impression do we expect people in the West to form about Pakistan and Pakistanis? After the Sialkot murder and previous incidents, do we still expect the foreigners to invest in Pakistan? Do we expect skilled managers and technicians to come to work in Pakistan? Do we expect sports teams to tour the country?
And how long will it take for companies and consumers in the West to stop buying products from us because we mistreat those of other religions, and murder our women in the name of honour? If they can use their leverage in the name of, say, child labour, will they not want to use it over a matter of much more serious nature? These are critical questions, and one wonders if anyone in a position of authority is thinking about them.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021