Media Cell, Washington D.C, 6th September 2018;
Nadeem Nusrat, chairman of South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation and the Voice of Karachi, has said that Pakistan belongs to all its citizens, not just members of its Punjabi-elite and military establishment. He urged US lawmakers to suspend all military aid and sales to Pakistan until its military establishment stops persecution of country’s ethnic and religious minorities and starts treating them as equal citizens of Pakistan. He also demanded that all those powerful elements who are involved in supporting religious extremist groups and sponsoring cross-border terrorism be brought to justice forthwith. He said this while addressing a packed Veteran’s Room at one of the congressional offices buildings in the US capital, Washington, DC. The event, titled “Minorities Day on the Hill”, was attended by an exceptionally large number of US lawmakers and congressional staffers as well as high level official representing Ambassador at large Sam Brownback and South Asia experts. Congressmen, Representative Tom Garrett Jr,. Rep. Scott Perry, Rep. Rob Wittman, Rep. Andy Harris and Rep. Gary Palmer also spoke on the occasion and extended their support for the cause of oppresses ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan. Pulitzer Prize winner journalist and AF-Pak expert Pir Zubair Shah, Gilgit-Baltistan leader Sange Sering, and Baloch rights activist Nabi Bux shared plight of Pakistan’s ethnic minorities in their address to the event. SAMAF executive director Puneet Ahluwalia moderated the event.
In his keynote speech, Nadeem Nusrat said that Pakistan had become a reality mainly due to the role played by, and sacrifices rendered by people of religious minorities and Muslims living in Hindumajority areas of India. The first president of Pakistan’s founding political party, the All India Muslim League, was an Ismaili; Pakistan’s founder Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a Shi’ite; Pakistan’s first foreign minister was an Ahmadi; one of the biggest donors to the Pakistan Movement, Raja Sahab of Mahmoudabad, was a Shi’ite; Pakistan’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was a Mohajir; and the scientist who earned Pakistan its first Nobel Prize was also an Ahmadi. Despite huge contributions and sacrifices made by people of these minority groups, ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan are under constant attack from religious bigots who enjoy overt and covert support from Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.
SAMAF and VOK chairman also highlighted instances of persecution and injustices that Mohajirs, Pashtuns, Balochs, people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Hazara, Christians, Ahmadis, Shi’ite Sikhs, and Hindus are facing in Pakistan. He also brought to the attention of US lawmakers the issues people in urban Sindh are facing.
Highlighting the case of Karachi and other urban areas in Sindh, Nadeem Nusrat said that Pakistan mainly runs on taxes paid by Karachi but this great city gets peanuts in return from Islamabad for even its most South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation www.samaf.org [email protected] +1 (406) 686 1023 basic expenses. This city runs Pakistan but lacks basic civic infrastructure including public transport system. Water and power supply is scarce and security agencies control most of water hydrants in Karachi from where Karachi’s water is stolen and sold back to its hapless citizens. Urban Sindh’s citizens are denied jobs and admissions in public educational institutions under a repressive quota system that gives preference to minority rural population. Security personnel looking after Karachi’s law and order are recruited from outside Karachi and they treat Karachi’s citizens as people of an occupied territory. Thousands of young Mohajirs are either in prison or have gone missing after being taken into custody. Incidents of extrajudicial killings and inhuman torture are a daily occurrence in Karachi, Balochistan and KP province.
Highlighting injustices and violence faced by Pakistan’s religious minorities, Nadeem Nusrat added that places of worship belonging to Shi’ites, Ahmadis and Christians are routinely attacked by religious extremists and perpetrators of such acts of violence are never apprehended. Minority communities’ members are regularly penalized under cruel blasphemy laws, most often without any credible evidence. He said Pakistanis take great joy seeing a second generation British-Pakistani Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London, but the real powers controlling Pakistan’s affairs are not willing to grant even the basic rights to those members of ethnic and religious minorities who are Pakistani citizens and are absolutely loyal to Pakistan.
On behalf of SAMAF and the Voice of Karachi, Nadeem Nusrat also extended full support to the people of Afghanistan who are a constant victim of terrorism in their own country for decades now. He said Pakistani military establishment’s security narrative sees Afghanistan as a client state and not as a sovereign, independent state. This is the reason why peace has been deluding Afghanistan for decades and terrorists’ groups such as Haqqani network enjoy safe sanctuaries in certain parts of Pakistan. He said that this policy has not only resulted in the loss of lives for the US and its allies, it has also resulted in widespread deaths and destruction in Afghanistan, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghans. People of Pakistan, particularly Pushtoons, too have been suffering due to these reckless policies.
Nadeem Nusrat said that it is about time that US lawmakers take decisive steps to ensure provision of rights for Pakistan’s minority groups and peace in Afghanistan. Welcoming the current US Administration’s decision to stop CSF funds for Pakistan and its declared opposition to the IMF bailout for Pakistan, Nadeem Nusrat urged the US lawmakers to suspend all military aid and sales to Pakistan until its military establishment allows true democracy flourish in Pakistan, stops persecution of country’s ethnic and religious minorities and starts treating them as equal citizens of Pakistan. He also demanded that all those powerful elements who are involved in supporting religious extremist groups and sponsoring cross-border terrorism be brought to justice forthwith.