Open letter to The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the Chairman of The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan
by Shaan Taseer
Dear Mr Prime Minister, and Dear Mr Chairman of the PTI
When you do so nobly and admirably defend the rights of Rohingas to live as equal citizens in Burma, free from persecution or the fear of persecution and the right to claim the protection of the State, why not speak out for your own countrymen when they face similar injustice?
Do take a moment to reflect on some disturbing similarities between the policies of apartheid that the Burmese government employs against Rohinga Muslims , and those that the state of Pakistan actively employs against virtually all its minorities.
One reads, the Burmese government denies Rohingas citizenship, essentially making them illegal people. Whereas our country thankfully doesn’t go that far, we have created an alternate class of citizenship for all non-Muslims; hence making them “different” citizens, with different legal status’. Our Passports not only require us to identify as Muslim or not; but then go a step further and require us to apostatize Ahmedis. Once identities are stamped forcefully on to one group of Pakistanis by another, it doesn’t take a huge leap of deduction to imagine how this will lead to discrimination.
How then can you, as PM and as head of largest opposition party, lecture Burma on discrimination when you yourselves are legislators in a country that is equally guilty of the same crime? Burma does so on the bases of ethnicity and Pakistan on the bases of religion. Between you two, you have a clear majority in parliament, certainly enough to change such cruel laws. Surely your voices on the International stage would carry considerably more moral authority if you set an example by first stopping the persecution of minorities at home.
Again so similar to our country, one reads that acts of violence against Rohinga Muslims in Burma are immune to the law. It was perhaps only yesterday that one read that eight of the ten assailants of Malala Yousofzai have been set free. You should also know that not a single perpetrator of the Gojra carnage of 2009 has been booked or arrested to date. The late Shahbaz Bhatti Shaheed said the Sipah Sahaba was involved in the Gojra massacre. It is worrying then that the head of the Sipah Sahaba fought the 2013 elections, as he did every election since 1990, as did forty of his colleagues from the benighted Shia killing organization. Shouldn’t this give our political leadership of which you’re both part some cause to think before expressing your dismay with the International community?
Hate propaganda; or literally calling-for- the-murder-of-communities is rampant in Burma as it is in Pakistan against virtually every minority. Yet you finger wag the government of Burma and the International community. A layman, like me, can tell you the various seminaries that hate material and apostatizing fatwas calling for murder, are regularly issued from; surely you both know. Surely you have seen videos on the internet of Aurangzeb Faruki and Ahmed Ludhianvi swearing to kill Shias, if not here’s one link: http://www.dailymotion.com/
Rather than list out all the various striking similarities between Burma and Pakistan I will invite the two of you Mr Prime Minister and Mr Chairman of PTI, to read the eight stages of genocide by a Mr Gregory Stanton on http://www.genocidewatch.org/
In fourteen European countries it is a crime to deny the holocaust. In Pakistan it is isn’t a crime but lets just say, it is unadvisable to mention the genocide of minorities, as you both have just somewhat demonstrated. As leaders of public opinion to whom many in our country look to for guidance, it is surprising and also upsetting that you are not moved by the killing of innocent Pakistanis as much as you are moved, and to your credit, by a similar crime taking place in another part of the world.
In 2012, when all this started in Burma, your political opponent Mr Asif Zardari, wrote a letter to the Burmese Government telling them basically to stop the genocide. Then too the irony wasn’t lost on many. Can I suggest Mr PM, that you obtain a copy of that letter, which shouldn’t be difficult as you are also the Foreign Minister; and then read that letter very carefully as it is good advice for you, your ministers, your cabinet and your colleagues in parliament.