Pakistan has been in the limelight for quite some time due to certain extremely disturbing incidents happening in the country with regard to Human Rights violations of minorities. With thanks to the international media, today, the world – besides terrorism and extremism – knows Pakistan as a place where minorities remain under absolute threat at all times.
Though there is no denying of the facts when it comes to the plight and sufferings of the minorities, it is certainly amazing how such incidents only overshadow the positive side of the country. And the media – intentionally or unintentionally – plays a big role in this regard. Thus, as per my observation and experience, I hereby share with the world a different side of Pakistan where minorities are given due respect and their rights are given importance.
There are people and organizations out there that are considerate enough about the basic rights of the minorities around them. We know that the majority i.e. the Muslims in Pakistan get enough official holidays to observe the religious festivals across the country. I have been part of one such organization where the similar religious requirements of the non-Muslim employees’ were taken care of by granting them paid leave on such occasions so that they could enjoy their special days with full zeal and fervor. Not only that, the organization’s head would personally send greeting cards to their homes to make them feel part of the same family.
The restaurants and cafes in the country usually remain closed in day time during the entire month of Ramadan. It is a common practice and the eateries re-open only when Iftar time is close. But this firm makes sure that the in-house café remains open for the non-Muslim staff members. Also, adequate food availability is ensured so that they don’t face any problem during the lunchtimes.
Few weeks ago, I happened to meet a European lady who’s been living in India for last few years due to her professional engagements. She shared how her family tried to convince her not to travel to Pakistan as they were scared of the ‘dangerous’ image of Pakistan they’d known about – of course through the international media. But once she was here, she not only enjoyed her stay but also found Pakistan very different from what she had known about the country through the media. Also, she mentioned that the place she lives in India is a quite peaceful place where people of all faiths live in harmony. Hearing that reminded me of some of the experiences one of my colleagues – a Pakistani Christian – had shared with me sometime back. She would often tell me how she enjoyed the various Islamic festivals and religious occasions along with her Muslim neighbors. Without any discrimination, all the Muslim families of the locality would share sweets, foods on various occasions like Eid Milad-un-Nabi and the sacrificed meat of Eid ul-Azha. Her family always felt like a part of the community like any other Muslim family. In fact, she added, that the best friend she has in her life is a Muslim girl who is closer to her more than even her own siblings.
All these things are just a glimpse that I have shared from my own personal observation. I am sure there are many such good things happening within the same country of ours where at some places, the minorities’ rights are subdued, which any sane human being would definitely condemn.
Pakistan is not just about evilness – there is a lot more to it. Pakistan is also a country which has had a Christian (Alvin Robert Cornelius) and a Hindu (Rana Bhagwan Das) as Chief Justice of Pakistan. Pakistan is also a country where the Hindu Welfare Council organizes Diwali celebration at Governor House. Pakistan is also a country where a considerable number of Sikh pilgrims are welcomed every year on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s birthday. Unfortunately, no one gets to hear such stories about this land.
The cancer of terrorism has already done a lot of damage to the country’s image. Therefore, while we discuss, abhor and decry those elements which only bring shame to the country, we must also keep presenting the bright side before the world or else, slowly gradually we’ll turn into a nation that is only hated and known for its negativity; which, to a certain extent, has already started happening.
May our country be blessed with leaders who have the courage and spirit to exterminate the evilness of any form which deteriorates the state’s image. May our people have the sensibility to fight for the same cause instead of falling prey to the ridiculous notions of extremism of all sorts so that we may rise as a nation that struggles and stands for peace and harmony.
Note: This post originally appeared here