Source/Credit: The Express Tribune: By Yaqoob Khan Bangash / Ocotber 10, 2011
Everyone in this world is a minority in one way or the other. In a society, men are either the majority or the dominant sex, one religion outnumbers another, one sect has more followers than the other, or one ethnicity overwhelms another smaller one numerically. In civilised societies and mature democracies, the emphasis for the last few decades has been to recognise such differences and to take steps to offer equal opportunities to everyone. Belgium, for example, has developed a complex federal system where the three linguistic communities have maximum autonomy within the Belgian constitution. Obviously, these systems do not make everyone happy, but their evolution exhibits attempts by countries to evolve in ways so that no one feels like a minority — everyone feels, and is effectively, a full citizen of the country.
Pakistan is the creation of a minority complex. The Muslims in India were fearful of the numerical majority of the Hindus, post the British departure, and therefore wanted a separate homeland for themselves so that they could safeguard their interests. So, in the words of the Muslim League, India was inhabited by only two communities: Muslim and Hindu, where both needed separation.
What the Muslim League forgot in this ‘Two Nation’ theory was the fact that the Muslims were not a homogenous community. There were a lot of internal fissures amongst the Muslims and several sections of the Muslim community were oppressed and discriminated against. Differentiation on the basis of caste, sect and ethnicity ran deep amongst the Muslims of South Asia.
When Pakistan was created, only people belonging to non-Muslim religions were considered minorities. Therefore, Christians and Hindus became easy targets for anti-western and anti-India attacks respectively. They were also clearly discriminated against in the constitution, the civil services, education and in general. Hence, when human rights groups focused on ‘minority persecution’, the gaze easily centred on these embattled communities.