Christmas, a holiday rich in Christian traditions, and December 25 - a day reminiscent of our Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The convergence of both these days into one signifies a very strong ideology found in the speeches of Jinnah - one of religious freedom and plurality. Pakistan was formed on the premise that every citizen would be allowed to practice their religion and their religious identity, however, a vast majority of the population lives on the narrative that not just sidelines the minorities of this country but also consider them a notch beneath equal citizens. Pakistan may be home to a significant minority population, but that population neither finds representation in the parliament nor has the capacity to live openly in a society where anything other than the majority is unacceptable.

While successive governments, particularly Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), have made efforts to restore the worship places of several minorities, the social situation for many is still very bleak. Minorities tend to live out in specific communities away from the majority in order to be able to get a sense of collectiveness along with a sense of security. The economic opportunities for them are also very limited since their induction into the mainstream society is extremely slow and lacks the backing of any political vision.

Pakistan was formed on the promise of equality to all citizens despite their religious or ethnic backgrounds. This understanding was shaped after living under British rule with the possibility of Congress hijacking the narrative of the minorities. The government now needs to realise that taking up the cause of minorities is the next step in the chain. Those who carry the citizenship of Pakistan should be granted all the rights as promised by the Constitution of Pakistan. This will help fulfil the Quaid’s vision of plurality. The Ministry of Human Rights is the most responsible in this case.

With another year setting in, the vision for Pakistan should be inclusive, determined, plural and just. The progress of Pakistan lies in the progress of its people - each one of those that we have marginalised. Pakistan was a country for all and it promised to let people be. This core individualistic principle alone can help Pakistan do away with its parochial ways. The Kartarpor Corridor is an example of the recognition of multiple ethnicities and religions residing in Pakistan. The government must stick to the same agenda to make the circle of the majority wider.