Monday, 13 March 2017

Extremism and intolerance, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in Geneva

Extremism and intolerance, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in Geneva during the UN Human Rights Council 34th Session on 12 March 2017

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues Aslamo alaikam and very good afternoon.
First responsibility of every civilised country is to save life, liberty and property of its citizens. However, when governments and law enforcing agencies are controlled by those who preach extremism, terrorism, religious hatred and intolerance, then sadly we get a society like we see in Pakistan where sincere attempts have been made to purify the land of pure.

To extremists and self acclaimed ultra nationalists all the minorities are legitimate targets. These extremists and their handlers assumed an authority to issue certificates who is loyal Pakistani and who is a true Muslim. In their myopic view, anyone who is not a loyal Pakistani or not a true Muslim deserves to be killed.

If Muslims, who believe in the same God, same Prophet and same Holy book are not safe from wrath of these extremists, one can imagine about the plight of non Muslims in the land of pure.

Non Muslim population of united Pakistan was about 23% in 1947. In 2017, it has fallen down to around 3 %; and that includes Qadianis who were declared non Muslims in 1974. Author of ‘Purifying the Land of the Pure’, Farahnaz Ispahani writes, and I quote:

‘Non Muslim minorities sects as Christian, Hindus and Sikhs have been the victims of suicide bombs on their neighbourhoods, and their community members have been converted to Islam against their will. Houses of worship of non Muslims as well as Muslim minority sects have been attacked and bombed while filled with worshipers.’ 1

Mr Chairman
If situation of human rights and terrorism was improving then one can take some comfort from that. It is sad that the situation is getting from bad to worse in Pakistan and other South Asian countries including India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

To some people, Pakistani statements on human rights and terrorism are getting better and convincing; but their record and their methods of controlling intolerance, extremism and terrorism are wrong. Either they are hoodwinking, just to fool the international community and human rights organisations or they think they can put out fire by use of petrol.

How can they eradicate extremism, which is one of the main reasons of terrorism when they are still hobnobbing with those who promote terrorism; and generate extremism and religious intolerance? How can they control extremism and terrorism when sources that promote them are presented as holy cows? How can they eradicate extremism and terrorism when institutions which sponsor them are funded and provided enormous media coverage?
Mr Chairman

Discrimination, oppression and injustice against women and cases of rapes are increasing in South Asian countries like Bangladesh Afghanistan, Pakistan and in some parts of India. More needs to be done to empower women and appropriate measures must be taken to improve the status of women and apprehend the culprits who inflict pain and misery on women.

On March 08 March 2017, The Express Tribune, a popular English Daily of Pakistan claimed in its report that '93% of Pakistani women experience sexual violence'
The founder of Madad gaar National helpline 1098, Zia Ahmed Awan claimed the Pakistan is among those countries where 70% women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime by their intimate partners and 93% women experience some form of sexual violence in public places in their lifetime’. 2

He further claimed that an inefficient social justice system is the reason for different forms of violence in Pakistan; and data collected by his organisation is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’. He also claimed that ‘only 10% cases of violence are being reported in Sindh and Punjab in media with even less reporting from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’. 3
No details of human rights violations in Pakistani occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistani occupied Gilgit Baltistan were collected and provided.

Mr Chairman, we people of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir suffer everyday and no one seems to be concerned about our plight. We live and die every day. We suffer on both sides of the line of control with no end in sight.

It is sad that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, extremism, terrorism and suffering of our people has become business for the people with the vested interest. While we suffer some people benefit from it politically and economically; and they ensure that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is unresolved that people continue to suffer and they become rich and powerful.

I urge the UN and the international community to take appropriate measures that extremism and terrorism could be combated and suffering and misery of the people could be alleviated.

I thank you Mr Chairman.

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Chairman South Asia Watch and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.
1/ Purifying the Land of Pure, Page 6
3/ Ibid

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