In a recent episode of one of the apparent ‘comedy programs’ aired on one of the private TV channels of Pakistan, a performer used extremely offensive and derogatory remarks targeted towards one specific religious group in Pakistan. The comedian in the clip, who was acting as dealer of conscience, used the words ‘Hindu kutta’. The performer while trying to be funny literally used the word ‘Hindu dog’. He was applauded by the sitting audience with loud claps and laughter.
I am surprised how this was allowed to go on air keeping in mind there are millions of Hindus living in Pakistan. Media ethics? PEMRA regulations? Hello? Anyone? Unfortunately, from text books to talk shows to common people, this culture of considering Hindus ‘impure’ or ‘inferior’ continues, thanks to the likes of such people who in disguise of their 'funny content’ keep this hatred alive.
Referring a religious group to ‘dog’ is supposed to be funny but all hell breaks loose when Donald Trump passes his hateful remarks towards Muslims. Before whining about a racist sitting miles away in the U.S, have some self-reflection – what we have been doing to the very people of our own country, the people who have been living in this land for thousands of years, long before Muslims arrived.
Many might not know this but a part of our land, which today is part of ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’, is the birthplace of Hinduism. Publicly insulting followers of that religion in the same country is extremely disrespectful to say the least. How insulting it would be for us Muslims if we get to hear anti-Muslim slurs in Makkah and Madina, the birthplace of Islam?
Let's make one thing absolutely clear: every Hindu is not an Indian, every Indian is not a Hindu and every Pakistani is not a Muslim. In our sheer jingoism against India we forget to respect Pakistani Hindus who are loyal sons of the country. Patriotism is natural and you don't have to belong to any specific faith to love your country. Therefore a Pakistani Hindu loving Pakistan or an Indian Muslim loving India shouldn't be a surprise.
People like APJ Abdul Kalam, Asif Ibrahim and Sania Mirza while being Muslims served India and similarly Pakistani Hindus have proudly served Pakistan in sports, judiciary, armed forces, fashion industry, politics and many other areas. Some big name likes Anil Dalpat, Justice Bhagwan Das, and Deepak Parwani have done way more for Pakistan than any Hindu hating bigot could ever do.
I wonder what Jinnah would have thought of this if he was alive today, given his close Dalit Hindu friend Joginder Naath Mandal, who was not only one of the stalwarts of the Pakistan movement, but also country's first law minister appointed by Jinnah himself. Witnessing mockery of faith of his friend by people who consider him ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ (Great Leader) might have left him confused. Maybe this is why, after Jinnah's death, Mandal submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan and migrated to India.
Before insulting Pakistani Hindus for your cheap publicity, at least keep in mind brave Pakistani Hindu army officers like Ashok Kumar (Shaheed) who gave up his life fighting the Taliban militants in Tirah valley. Captain Ashok gave up his life for his country fighting the elements that have waged war on state so that some of his fellow country people could freely enjoy mocking his faith.
It is extremely shameful if anyone finds anti-Hindu slurs funny or supports such acts of sheer bigotry.
Now of course, it could be argued whether the act of the comedian falls under exercising one's basic right of free speech. However, there is a thin line between free speech and hate speech. When you collectively attack a group on the basis of attributes such as gender, nationality, religion, sect or race, it very much qualifies for hate speech.
Today, Pakistani population is composed of Muslims belonging to various sects, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and even those who don't associate themselves with any religious beliefs. They all are Pakistanis and the only one thing that unites them is their green passport. No doubt, Pakistan was created to safeguard economic and political rights of Muslims but being Muslim in no way equates to ‘Better Pakistani’. In the eyes of motherland, all are and should be equal citizens. Let’s respect every faith so that no Jogendra Nath Mandal or Abdus Salam find any reason to leave this country.
Let's reject the bigots who divide the people of Pakistan on religious basis. Let's strive for progressive and pluralistic Pakistan.