ISSN 2330-717X

PM Imran Khan: Charity Begins At Home – OpEd


Now that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken a brief breather in his attack on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s so called ‘pogrom’ against Muslims, his Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has taken over and in a tweet has told the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that it “cannot stand by and let another ‘Gujrat’ happen.”

Why has Khan taken a respite from Modi-bashing is not known, but it appears that it could be due to diplomatic embarrassment caused by the exposure of ISI’s trickery of slamming India for ‘Islamophobia’ through using fake twitter handles created in names of members of influential Middle East royal family members.

What has made matters worse is that with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman univocally denouncing anti-India propaganda on social media, Modi has, once again taken the wind out of a bellowing Khan’s sails and that too, without even uttering a word. Readers would recollect that Khan has desperately been trying peddle his feeble tale of rising Islamophobia in India ever since the 2019 UNGA meet without any apparent success. Frustrated once again, for Kham to ‘retire hurt’ and take temporary refuge in the pavilion is understandable.

Two months ago, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to twitter for ‘warning’ the international community that “Today in India we are seeing the Nazi-inspired RSS ideology take over a nuclear-armed state of over a billion people. Whenever a racist ideology based on hatred takes over, it leads to bloodshed.” In a second tweet sent just a few hours later Khan stated, “As I had predicted in my address to UNGA last yr (year), once the genie is out of the bottle the bloodshed will get worse. IOJK was the beginning. Now 200 million Muslims in India are being targeted. The world community must act now.”

Unfortunately, Khan’s attempt to be seen as ‘the man who saw tomorrow’ and a messiah for ‘oppressed’ Muslims in India evoked no response from the global community and the reason for this is simple- rather than be seen as a Nostradamus, his theatrics at UNGA made him look more like the boy from Aesop’s fable, who persistently cried “wolf!” Furthermore, Khan’s bid to emerge as the global saviour of Muslims was scuttled by US acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, Ms Alice Wells, who after Khan’s UNGA address said, “I would like to see the same level of concern expressed (by Imran Khan) about Muslims who are being detained in Western China, literally in concentration-like conditions! Expectedly, Khan, the ‘hard-hitter’ chose to keep mum!

But why did he on the same day tweet that “I want to warn our people that anyone in Pakistan targeting our non-Muslim citizens or their places of worship will be dealt with strictly. Our minorities are equal citizens of this country”? Was it to convey to his “Nazi-inspired” Indian counterpart that unlike him, Khan had ‘zero-tolerance’ against persecution of minorities in Pakistan? It seems so, because just two months ago, while speaking with ministers in Punjab (Pakistan), Khan had told them, “We have to especially show Narendra Modi’s India how we treat minorities and how they treat minorities.”

So, let’s see how does Imran Khan’s ‘Naya (new) Pakistan’ treats its minorities.

Since Khan assumed office of Prime Minister in August 2018, it would be fair to give him one year for putting in place his concept of ‘naya Pakistan’ in which minority communities would be safe. But on looking up the factsheet concerning safety of minorities from August 2019 onwards, the situation is far from satisfactory, as is evident from the following:

  • August 2019- A 19-year-old Sikh girl named Jagjit Kaur, the daughter of a ‘granthi (Sikh priest) of Gurudwara Tambu Sahib was kidnapped at gunpoint, forcibly converted to Islam and made to marry a Muslim man in Nankana Sahib area of Lahore.
  • October 2019- Protection of Minorities Bill criminalising forced religious conversions moved by Grand Democratic Alliance Member of Provisional Assembly Nand Kumar Goklani was rejected for the second time by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh Province. Ironically, though a similar bill was passed by the Provincial Assembly in December 2016, the Governor refused to give his assent on the insistence of the Provincial Government.
  • October 2019- Huma Younus, a 14 years old Christian girl was kidnapped, converted to Islam and forcibly married off to a Muslim youth. On a complaint by the parents and pressure from Christian community, the girl was produced before the Sindh High Court in Karachi. But in a shocking verdict, Judges Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah who heard the case ruled that even if Huma was a minor, her marriage the alleged abductor was valid as per Sharia law, since she had already had her first menstrual cycle!
  • January 2020- Gurudwara Nankana Sahib was attacked by an unruly mob. The crowds terrorised Sikhs by eviction threats, vowed to rename Nankana Sahib as ‘Ghulam-e-Mustafa’ and even threatened to demolish this Gurudwara, to make place for a Mosque.
  • January 2020- Mehak Kumari, a 15-year-old Hindu girl was abducted by a 28-year-old divorcee from her home in Jacobabad district in Sindh, made to convert to Islam and forcibly married to him.
  • January 2020- Bharati Bai, a 24-year-old Hindu girl was abducted in connivance with local police from her wedding venue in Hala in Matiari district of Sindh province, forced to convert and marry her abductor.
  • March 2020- Three minor Christian boys (two aged 12 and, one 14-year-old) who were playing video games at a local games arcade in Lahore were abducted by four motor bikers, taken to a secluded spot and sodomised.  
  • April 2020- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed serious concerns over reports of food aid during Covid-19 pandemic being denied to Hindus and Christians by a Karachi based NGO (Saylani Welfare International Trust) on the grounds that the aid was exclusively meant for Muslims. Though the authorities tried to cover up this incident by claiming that it was due to inadvertent confusion, but the very fact that an NGO duly recognised by the government chose to link religion with food distribution is frightening.

In its 2019 report on Pakistan, USCIRF had observed that “During the year, extremist groups and societal actors continued to discriminate against and attack religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and Shi’a Muslims.”

It also went on to note that “The government of Pakistan failed to adequately protect these groups, and it perpetrated systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.” While this is extremely embarrassing, but what would have come as personal humiliation and setback for Khan is the USCIRF’s observation that “this occurred despite some optimism about the potential for reform under the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

The fact that US Department of State has taken cognisance of USCIRF’s findings and re-designated Pakistan as one of the nine “Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)” is the real reason why the crocodile tears that Khan sheds for the so called ‘persecuted’ Muslims in India cuts no ice with the international community. Therefore, if he’s genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of whom he considers to be the ‘oppressed’ Muslims in India, then Khan should walk his talk by opening up his country to ‘persecuted’ indigenous Muslims of India as well as the Rohingya Muslims who are settled here and are facing possible deportment to Myanmar, provide them political asylum and Pakistani citizenship- after all, as the wise have said, charity begins at home

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Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a ‘Kashmir-Watcher,’ and now after retirement is pursuing his favorite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks.

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