My name is Mahesh Kochra and I am a resident of Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood. Recently a BBC Urdu video went viral depicting a handful of Hindus complaining of ‘injustices’ faced by the Hindu community in Pakistan. The individuals in the video pointed out towards books and contended that the Pakistani curriculum comprises of anti-Hindu content. Hindu boys and girls who appeared in the view, seemed well educated and literate with fluent English and Urdu and effective speaking and communicating skills.
If Pakistani Hindus were being subjected to discrimination and injustice, how come these boys and girls were able to receive a quality education? Hindu literacy rate in Pakistan, especially in Sindh is significantly high with a large number of doctors, engineers, lawyers, software engineers belonging to Hindu community. Pakistani society comprises of religious diversity with people of different faith in every field, domain.
As far as I’m concerned, I consider myself as a free citizen of this country where I was born, got educated, and was able to achieve my goals. I’m able to freely celebrate religious events which are not only participated by people from our community but Muslims also accompany us in our religious festivities, reassuring us that this country belongs to us equally and that we are free to practice our religion as promised by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah after independence;
‘You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan’
-Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Quaid-e-Azam’s respect for minorities can be judged from the fact that following the 1947 partition, S.P. Singha was allowed to continue his services as Speaker in Punjab Assembly. Quaid-e-Azam kept his promise of ensuring not merely equal but in fact ‘favorable’ treatment for religious minorities. Another indisputable proof of favorable treatment of religious minorities is that during the oath-taking ceremony in the first session of the Constituent Assembly on August 10th 1947, the first name called was of Jogendra Nath Mandal followed by Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan at second and third place respectively. Jogendra Nath Mandal presided over the very first session of the Constituent Assembly and later also served as Pakistan’s first Minister of Law and Labour.
In his Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August, 1947 Quaid-e-Azam said;
‘You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of State.’
Furthermore, Justice Rana Bhagwandas and Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius have served as Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP). Several members from Pakistan’s Christian community have been awarded with Tamgha-e-Jurat and Tamgha-e-Basalat. I’m associated with the teaching profession, and my pupils range from school students to graduates; to this day I have never felt any discrimination based on my religion. Neither have I experienced any religious prejudice from any of my students, nor I have ever acted in a biased manner.
The BBC Urdu video argues that Hindus and Sikhs are portrayed as ‘villains’ and murderers in Pakistani books and curriculum. However, this argument is severely misrepresented as it depicts only one side of the story and is aimed at deriving ‘required’ meaning for a handful of people. Organizations such as the Taliban and Daesh are termed as ‘terrorist’ but it surely doesn’t mean that all Muslims are terrorists as extremism has no religion.
Pakistan is our country, along with everything associated with it and we love it unconditionally. We have never been told to ‘go to India’, nor we have ever been accused of supporting the Indian team during a cricket match.
Another thing that is misrepresented in the video is that it claims ‘Pakistan Studies’ book states that Hindus used to bury their girls alive – a statement that is nowhere to be found in the book. This claim is untrue and fictitious. This cruel practice has nothing to do with Hinduism as it was even carried out by Arabs before the advent in Islam.
This same book however, apprises us of Quaid-e-Azam’s principle stance in favor of minorities and their rights. Moreover, this book also reminds us of the time when people of all faiths and religions lived peacefully in the subcontinent.
This book also discusses Gandhara Civilization, along with Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa’s ancient civilizations, and that not all Hindus and Sikhs but only a handful of ‘traitors’ betrayed Muslims.
The purpose of this video is nothing but to defame Pakistan as the ground realities are far from what have described in the video and which can only be understood and experienced by walking in our shoes. The video is nothing but a propaganda piece that incorporates distorted facts. Every religion enjoys its due rights in Pakistan. In fact, i’ve always publicly stated that Pakistan is the most ‘pure’ land in the world. The one-sided biased representation of an issue reflects BBC Urdu’s malign intentions.
– The writer is a youth activist, anchor and teacher.