End this discrimination

By Ali Saif

Recent incidents of racism in USA and rest of the world have not happened by chance or accidental in nature actually such incidents were expected. President of US, Barack Obama is right when he says that massacre at historic African-American church in Charleston in South Carolina is racism and that racism still haunts the United States. He has also warned that people of US have to be vigilant since it still lingers and when it is poisoning the minds of young people, it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart.

No doubt that they have made great progress in terms of strict legislation on racism but still it haunts United States. Actually dynamics of the population have changed, since last century world has entered into the age of urbanization and cosmopolitanism more rapidly. At the outset of the twentieth century 10 per cent of the population of the world lived in cities. In 2000 this proportion had risen to just over 50 per cent, and by 2025 the total urban population of the world is predicted to increase again in relative terms and to grow in absolute terms to a figure in excess of 5 billion worldwide. So the issues like hate speech, hate crime, xenophobia and racism are very obvious and world have been witnessing it in different forms recently.

In Pakistan, largest city Karachi is in turmoil due to the similar causes, and next city could be the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad. Current operation in Karachi is not addressing the root causes. True that acutely, it has achieved satisfactorily outcome but in long run it would produce negative impact, lethal repercussions and unwanted results; perhaps a perfect nightmare for not only targeted ethnic groups, political parties, rangers and military but for Pakistan too. It is not wrong to quote Obama’s statement here “when it is poisoning the minds of young people; it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart.”

Pakistan is not the signatory of United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD), it is monitoring racial equality and non-discrimination, so much so regarding racism there is no law in Pakistan. How ironic that Pakistan was disintegrated on racism in 1971 and still there is no legislation on this subject. Like terrorism the racism and xenophobia are the widespread issues worldwide. In the wake of burgeoning urbanization and cosmopolitanism there is an urgent need to frame strict legislation to avoid Karachi like situation in other big cities of Pakistan.

In 1973, then Prime minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had introduced and implemented the quota system in the country to give representation to all ethnic groups in Pakistan and it is the quota system actually which has gathered all provinces and ethnic groups like a chain as single unit but with passage of time change in urban demography and dynamics we need solid legislations in terms of racism like we have framed rules to eliminate terrorism in the form protection of Pakistan bill.

Pakistan needs a Mandela, A man of steadfast belief in justice, human rights and equality, who can reconcile with his most ardent persecutors. One leader in Pakistan Mr. Zardari is considered as champion of reconciliation like the great Mandela. But unfortunately he is removed from the scene temporarily. When he was in power, Mr. Zardari forgave his worst enemies. He announced general amnesty for all. He introduced and practically implemented his reconciliation policy: a new culture where there was no revenge, no hatred for anyone. According to fundamental principles of good governance, as a head of state he worked for fraternity between nations and took necessary steps for promotion of peace process. He also has played his vital role to build the institutions of a true democracy and remained a uniting figure in all political forces. Last year some people were looking to derail democracy through marches, protests and rallies in the Red Zone of the capital of Pakistan. It was Zardari who rescued democracy.

But it is so sad that he never raised his voice on a widespread issue of racism in Pakistan. During his five years democratic government, he did not make any legislation over this subject. And today none else but he himself has become the victim of racism again like in the past in 1990s. He should have learnt the lesson from his past bitter experience but he did not.

Only three federal secretaries are from sindh province currently, and it is the duty of incumbent government to balance the equation to end victimization and racism with sindh and other smaller provinces.  Let us pledge that we will eliminate all forms of racial discriminations from our country and we will become the signatory of United Nations convention on the eliminations of all forms of racial discrimination (UNCERD) and will make strict legislation through the parliament and we will also revisit the Karachi operation in the wake of urbanization and demographic dynamics. Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan should come forward to take this historic step in the larger interest of Pakistan.