Source / Credit: The Huffington Post
By Samia Khan Bambrah
Growing up as a member of the privileged class of Karachi, I was blinded to many of the realities of my city. My friends and I were what the average Pakistani would call “burgers,” an affectionately derogatory term to describe the Westernized brats of the wealthy.
In our bubble, it didn’t matter that we were Shiite, Parsi and Christian. But beyond our walls, these differences mattered. The 1990s were marred in Karachi by communal violence. Though the violence
occurred beyond our physical boundaries, it often entered our subconscious through the callus remarks of our parents about “those pesky Muhajirs.” But then we would return to our school bubble and dismiss the notion of difference over a game of foosball.
Minorities in Pakistan no longer have the luxury of dismissing their difference. Since 2001, 80 holy sites have been desecrated, killing more than 1,200 worshippers, most of them religious minorities. This year, two prominent political leaders, Governor Salman Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were killed for advocating a review of the blasphemy law, a law that is misused to persecute minorities.
By far the most vilified of groups has been the Ahmadis, a minority Muslim sect who were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan in 1974. In early June, the All-Pakistan Students Khatm-e-Nubuwat Federation in Faisalabad openly distributed pamphlets calling for the murder of 36 Ahmadi industrialist families. The students, so confident of their impunity, put their phone numbers on the pamphlets.
Samia Khan Bambrah is a writer and international development professional based in Brooklyn, N.Y. She has worked for several human rights and development agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme. She is also a recent graduate of NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She currently sits on the board of the Nur Project, an organization that aims to help Pakistan achieve its potential as a progressive and vibrant nation.