Aspersions and reality

A new administration is taking up the mantle of governing Pakistan and has expressed the desire to improve relations with India but on its part, the Indian media has never missed an opportunity of maligning Pakistan on one pretext or the other. The most recent example is the issue of migration of Hindu and Sikh families to India, which is being propagated by the Indian media to defame Pakistan. While projecting a negative image of Pakistan, it deliberately omits the positive aspects of Islamabad’s support to the minority community.Indeed, a few cases of migration from Pakistan to India have occurred. However, the rationale behind it was not persecution, but administrative reasons. Whereas, Hindu extremists have deliberately targeted minority Sikhs and Muslims in India, and the denial of justice to the victims by the Indian state is a common feature; the tales of brutal suppression of minorities are swept under the carpet. The Christian minority in India also continues to face harassment and receives death threats for practising its faith. Christianity is perceived to be a threat to Hindu fundamentalists, who enjoy the backing of the Brahmins and extremist Hindu political parties like BJP. In 2000, an Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines was burned alive, along with his two young sons, by Hindu fundamentalists. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Many Christian priests have been killed or severely injured in hate-motivated attacks and nuns have been raped in a bid to end their missionary activities of serving humanity. In 2008, Hindu fundamentalists unleashed a reign of terror on the minority Christian population in the Indian state of Orissa. They entered several churches during Sunday services, attacked the Christian congregations and burned down countless churches. Hundreds of Christians were killed and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes. In many cases, when the Christians tried to file reports with police stations, the presiding officers turned them away. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other minority groups in India face discrimination. According to Human Rights Watch, about 170 million Dalits (considered untouchables according to the Hindu caste system) are condemned to a lifetime of abuse and degradation in India just because of their cast classification. The Dalits and Adivasis continue to face widespread discrimination, including: decreased educational opportunity, religious discrimination, economic deprivations and targeted violence against women that is greatly under-reported. The Indian Muslims are a perpetual targets. In a recent incident of extrajudicial killing, Khalid Mujahid died in mysterious circumstances under police custody, while he was returning to Lucknow Jail after the hearing of his case in Faizabad District Court. He was arrested in 2007 on charges of serial blasts the same year. It, however, would be worthwhile to examine this particular case. His custodial killing is being attributed to the police officers, who fear action against them if Khalid was released, since it is seen in continuation of the atmosphere created in masses and security establishment after the death of Sarabjit Singh. It is worth mentioning that had such an event taken place inside Pakistan against any minority community, the Indian media would have used the opportunity to malign it viciously with non-stop propaganda. It is Pakistan’s magnanimity that its media seldom reports such incidents and refuses to use it as anti-Indian propaganda. However, it is a point to ponder for own media that if the Indian media can make such a hue and cry through fake stories about Hindus in Pakistan, why such serious violations against Muslims and other minorities in India cannot be highlighted by local media? It is high time that renowned human rights activists like Ansar Burney and Asma Jahangir came forward and raised their voice against the custodial killing of Mujahid and unjustified imprisonment of scores of Muslim youth on fabricated charges of being involved in terrorist activity. Similarly, international human rights groups may be approached to note the discrimination or violence by state against Muslim population of India.Several Indian Muslim organisations and human rights bodies have condemned Mujahid’s ‘custodial murder’, who had been exonerated by the Nimesh Commission, but the Uttar Pradesh government was playing politics about his release. The Indian Muslim bodies have demanded fair CBI probe, but, unfortunately, nary a word of condemnation has been heard from Pakistan. Let Pakistani media wake up!
nThe writer is a former group captain of PAF, who also served as air and naval attaché at Riyadh. Currently, he is a columnist, analyst and host of programme Defence and Diplomacy on PTV. 

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