You’re a Muslim. Your family came over from Pakistan in the 60’s. You regard yourself as British – why wouldn’t you? You were born in Britain. You’ve lived your whole life in Britain. You are British.
But naturally you’ve still got a bond to Pakistan. You’ve still got loads of family there – in fact, you just went back recently for a cousin’s wedding. The community which you are a part of here in Britain is largely made up of other Muslims from Pakistan – after prayers end in the Mosque you’re far more likely to hear people talking in Urdu than Arabic.
You are British. But Pakistan still has a major place in your life. And anyone who tells you that’s somehow a problem should, quite frankly, jog on.
The thing is, more and more recently you’ve been seeing a lot of negativity towards Pakistan from people in the UK. People can’t seem to stop talking about it. Criticizing it. Blaming it for all of the problems in the region.
Indeed, there are actually a group of people who seem to have made it their mission in life to see Pakistan disappear as a country.
According to them, Pakistan is a fake nation, imposed out of nowhere. When the British were dividing up the territory known as India, they were put under a huge amount of pressure to create a separate state for Muslim Indians. The result was Pakistan, a nation that before 1948 had never before existed. The creation of this state, set up for religious nationalistic purposes, led to millions of people being forced to leave their homes, becoming refugees.
The detractors of Pakistan have a name for this ideology. They refer to it as ‘Jinnahism’, after the founder of Pakistan, Ali Jinnah. As far as they’re concerned, Jinnahism is responsible for most of the evil in the world. The wars in South East Asia? They wouldn’t have happened without Jinnahism. America’s interference in the region? Jinnahism is responsible. Pakistan is a fraud, a sham, an imitation nation, they cry out.
They have a lengthy list of Pakistan’s crimes to focus on. The 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, in which the Pakistani army killed between 300,000 and 3 million people. Pakistan’s ongoing occupation of Balochistan features prominently in their discourse. They talk of little but the human rights abuses going on in Pakistan, the Human Rights Watch report that estimates that between 70-90% of the women in Pakistan have suffered some form of abuse. The apartheid carried out against the Ahmadi and other religious minorities through the use of horrendous ‘blasphemy laws’.
But the thing is, you suspect quite strongly that they don’t really care about the Bangladesh genocide, or the Balochistani occupation, or the dire treatment of women, or the apartheid being carried out against minority religious groups. And the reason that you suspect that they don’t really care is that Pakistan seems to be the only country on their radar. All other nations get a free pass. The treatment of women in India? Not important. The suffering of the Palestinians? Not their problem. All they focus on is the country which you still happen to have a close bond with.
It’s clear to people where your family originates from and you get abuse on a constant basis because of it. People cursed you out of moving cars. You were spat at on a bus. When you were a kid you were beaten up by a bunch of other kids in the street. ‘Why are you doing this?’ you ask.
‘For what Pakistan is doing’, one of them replies, driving a boot into your stomach.
You had hoped University might be different. But in a way, it’s far worse. You come across anti-Pakistan societies, masquerading as ‘Free Balochistan’ outfits. But they make it quite clear that even were Balochistan to become autonomous, they wouldn’t give up. They’d still be calling for Pakistan’s destruction, for it to be folded back into a greater India.
What’s worse, you get people heckling you on campus; they’ve made a snap judgement about your political views based on the way that you look.
‘Jinnahist baby-killer!’ one of them shrieks out.
‘Free Balochistan! End Pakistani Apartheid’ yells another.
You know you’ll get no sympathy from the students union. Indeed many times over the years they’ve passed resolutions against the ongoing apartheid in Pakistan. They’ve made sure that none of their custom goes to any Pakistani companies. They’ve even given tacit support to student groups who act out guerrilla theatre on campus, with different water fountains for Pakistani Muslims and Non-Muslims.
You won’t be getting much in the way of support from University staff either. Academics from universities across Britain have called for a cultural boycott of Pakistani institutions, alleging that since such institutions operate under the apartheid government of Pakistan, all members of such institutions must be suspect.
Fellow pupils seem less than sympathetic. ‘I love Muslims’, they’ll tell you. ‘I have nothing against Muslims. But what goes on in Pakistan makes me sick.’
‘JINNAHISM IS NOT ISLAM’, reads a typical banner carried at protests outside the Pakistani embassy. This mirrors what so-called ‘anti-Jinnahists’ tell you online. ‘I’m not Islamophobic. I have Muslim friends who are disgusted at what’s going on in Pakistan. Are they Islamophobic? Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace – since you support Pakistan, maybe you’re the Islamophobe here.’
Ah yes, the Muslim friends of the anti-Pakistani brigade. ‘Muslims for Justice in Pakistan’, and the ‘Balochistan Solidarity Campaign’. Muslim academics and celebrities write regular letters to newspapers condemning Pakistan’s actions – ‘as Muslims, we are outraged at the apartheid and occupation being perpetrated by Pakistan’.
Anti-Pakistani campaigners point to those Muslims and say to you ‘you see them – they are the real Muslims. You just came in from somewhere else and corrupted their religion. Jinnahist scum.’
And then there’s the boycott. ‘#BDS – Boycott Pakistan’. It’s touted as a peaceful way to put pressure on Pakistan to stop its occupation and apartheid. But you notice that not a single other country is targeted for the flagrant human rights abuses going on there. Not one. Just the country you have family in, which you do, even though you see yourself as British, feel a strong connection to. Just Pakistan.
You can feel a strong current of Islamophobia running through much of the rhetoric surrounding the anti-Pakistan movement. One prominent anti-Pakistan campaigner talks about the ‘Jinnahist lobby’ controlling the media and various government officials, which sounds to you a lot like the ranting of the far-right about ‘Islam taking over’. People talk openly about how the whole world would be a better place if the country where your friends and family live ceased to exist. The people living there? ‘Oh, they could just go back to where they came from, in India. Or some of them could stay there, as part of a 1 state solution in a Greater India.’
It starts to get worse. A prominent political party elects a leader who has spent a large portion of his life talking at events protesting the goings on in Pakistan (injustices in many other countries seem to have passed him by). He has sat with people who have labelled all Pakistanis as scum and falsely accused them of harvesting the organs of Ahmadi and Christian children. He has called organisations which have pledged to wipe Pakistan from the face of the earth his ‘friends’. When you point any of this out you are told that you are smearing an honourable and upright man who has fought for justice his whole life. You are accused of trying to stifle any and all criticism of Pakistan. People who call themselves ‘proud anti-racists’ abuse you in the foulest terms for your ‘Jinnahist nationalist system of oppression’.
The National Union of Students elects a leader who is a prominent anti-Pakistani campaigner. She has talked about the University of Bradford, which has a large number of Muslims, being a ‘Jinnahist Outpost’. She has said that the problem with the BDS movement is that it means that people in the West are in some ways removing the legitimacy of those using more violent means to overthrow the ‘Jinnahist state’. She has made it clear that she would have no problem at all if Pakistan ceased to exist.
My friends, it should be clear to you what I am trying to put across here. This situation exists in Britain today. Just substitute ‘Pakistan’ for ‘Israel’, ‘Jinnahism’ for Zionism, ‘Balochistan’ for ‘Palestine’.
And ‘Islam’ for ‘Judaism.’
If you are of Pakistani origin, please read this and think to yourself, ‘would I like to be treated like this?’
Because that’s how many people in the UK (including, regretfully, many from your community) treat us.