Mainstreaming of bigotry
Captain (retd) Safdar’s National Assembly speech against the Ahmadia community is a reminder of the bigoted mindset that exists in the country. The PML-N leader called for a ban on hiring Ahmadis in the Armed forces and other institutions. He went on to demand withdrawal of the decision — of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led government — to name a department of Quaid-e-Azam University after the first Pakistani Nobel laureate, Dr Abdus Salam.
Both the PML-N and the government need to clarify if Safdar’s hate speech is his opinion or if it reflects the party and the government policy. If it does not reflect either the party’s or the government’s position, then the least that has to be done is to issue a show-cause notice to the MNA.
No one can be allowed to get away with spewing venom against Pakistani citizens for their religious beliefs — least of all parliamentarians. Safdar’s statement is a clear violation of the National Action Plan (NAP) as well.
The PML-N’s deafening silence on the hateful remarks of the former PM’s son-in-law is concerning. The ruling party has been making tall claims about wanting a pluralist Pakistan. It was just a few weeks ago that Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif made passionate appeals for support from the international community to enable the government to rid the country of its liabilities. These appeals won’t count for much until Asif’s party and the party’s government first rid themselves of their liabilities.
If the PML-N government does not immediately disown Safdar’s statement, all its claims about pluralism and tolerance will be considered dubious.
The Ahmadia community has been on the receiving end of faith-based violence and discrimination for far too long. Such statements from political leaders tend to further enable violence against the persecuted community.
The commotion in the National Assembly in the name of a debate following a ‘clerical error’ in the draft of the Election Reforms bill had already sent a signal about the misplaced priorities of the political leadership. Besides, we have the mainstreaming of militant outfits going on without any debate on its parameters. And now with Safdar’s hateful speech, it seems like mainstreaming of bigotry is also underway.
This state-of-affairs will serve to reverse all the progress made so far against terrorism, because the latter cannot be eradicated without confronting the extremist mindset.
Daily Times, October 12, 2017
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