File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | Facebook
File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | Facebook
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Imran Khan’s tweet shows what happens when you grow up in a country whose Constitution is not fundamentally equal.

Imran Khan wished “all” his country’s “Christian citizens” a happy and peaceful Christmas on Twitter. Great, right? Actually, the greeting clearly demonstrates why the Pakistani prime minister continues to get it wrong on the fundamental difference between India and Pakistan.

The fact that Imran Khan is wishing only his “Christian citizens” and not all of Pakistan surprises no one in Pakistan. Who else would he wish, they would likely ask.

The answer is: All of the people of Pakistan. Even Narendra Modi forgot his own Good Governance Day this year to wish all Indians Merry Christmas.

Imran Khan’s tweet shows what happens when you grow up in a country whose Constitution is not fundamentally equal. Of course, Jinnah was a great guy and it is terribly unfortunate he didn’t live to translate his own speech telling Pakistan’s minorities that they were “free to go to your (their) temples” on 11 August 1947, days before a “moth-eaten” country was given to him to rule.

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But even if Pakistan’s Hindus were allowed to safely pray in their temples and Pakistani Sikhs in their gurdwaras without the fear of ISI intelligence agents lurking around, Pakistan would not fundamentally be either secular or egalitarian because it is a single-religion dominant nation – an Islamic Republic.

This is not the time or place to go into why India’s Muslims wanted a separate country for themselves where they would feel secure and empowered. Pakistan chose its destiny in 1947 and its deeply creative and talented people have since sought to circumvent as well as stand up to the horrific army crackdowns, martial law, dictatorships, coups, and assassinations that have scarred our unfortunate western neighbour in terrible ways.


Also read: Imran Khan says he will show Modi govt how to treat minorities


But when your citizenry is told, on a daily basis, that according to the Constitution, Muslims are citizens first – in fact, not all Muslims are equal, for example, the Ahmadiyas face threats to their lives every second – and everybody else comes second, then the fact of inequality subverts everything else.

That’s why the prime minister wishes only his “Christian citizens” because only they celebrate Christmas. Why would anyone else?

Perhaps it would surprise Mr Khan that all over the world, including in Hindu-majority India – people celebrate all kinds of festivals irrespective of the religion they are born into. When everyone is theoretically equal – even in Narendra Modi’s Bharat – then you can theoretically do what you want.

In single-religion countries such as Pakistan, that is simply not possible. It is surprising that Imran Khan, once married to Jemima Goldsmith, who is said to be Jewish, simply doesn’t get it.

Even at the Kartarpur groundbreaking ceremony late in November, Imran tried to explain the significance of Kartarpur Sahib by comparing it with Medina, and the importance that site held for Muslims. “I want to tell my Muslim brothers that just as Medina is important for us, Kartarpur Sahib is similarly important for our Sikh brothers,” the Pakistan PM said.

The fact that Imran had to make that comparison in the first place – Medina and Kartarpur Sahib – tells you that the people of Pakistan had no clue about Kartarpur Sahib. Question is, why?

The answer is: when you’re not a secular country, shrines of other faiths become less relevant.


Also read: Pakistani TV, plays and movies can’t get enough of Imran Khan & the dam song


Of course you can argue that Imran Khan, with a lot of help from the Army that is standing rock solid behind him, is trying to change that. Even in his recent comments, marking 100 days of the Punjab government, the Pakistan PM said his government was taking steps so that Pakistan’s minorities get their due rights as per the vision of Jinnah.

Certainly, by opening up Kartarpur Sahib, Imran Khan not only won many hearts and minds within India for creating a major confidence-building measure, but also demonstrated his own personal belief that all faiths can live together even when one of them is more equal than the rest.

This brings me to why Imran Khan’s remarks earlier this week that “we will show the Modi government how to treat minorities”, in the wake of Naseeruddin Shah’s angst about mob violence under the Modi government, created such a furore in India.

A friend and fellow journalist Nirupama Subramanian, who has worked in Pakistan for several years, pointed out that one reason for the controversy in India could be our own growing unease over Modi’s Hindutva politics subverting the very nature of the Constitution without changing it – which, effectively, means that India, just like Pakistan, is becoming a single-religion dominant state.

The well-known Pakistani poet Fahmida Riaz said it best a long time ago. “Tum bhi hum jaise hi nikle (You turned out to be like us).”

So let’s think about this, this Christmas Day. The prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan not only infantilises his own people when he compares Medina with Kartarpur Sahib – they already know, Imran Sahib – he then confounds that lack of understanding by selectively wishing only Pakistan’s Christians instead of all the people.

What’s worse is, he doesn’t even see what he’s doing.

And then there is India, seemingly angry and frustrated that Prime Minister Modi has brought out the fault lines within, more than anyone else since Partition.

Still, it’s the season of good cheer. So, Merry Christmas, everyone!

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21 Comments Share Your Views

21 COMMENTS

  1. After the Kartarpur corridor, India uses Christians to malign Imran Khan. Shame on you! At least call spade a spade. Expected a lot better from Indians.

  2. Before criticising your neighbour first you should introspect yourself… Why are you going to pakistan and Imran K an when your own Country is facing the more dangerous situation these days… You have a lot of issues and topics to discuss… Lynching of muslims on the name of cow.. Girls being raped and gang raped..Beating and killing of dalits..journalists being attacked and killed and curbing press and free media…and much more… Ms Jyoti Malhotra go and save your country first which is in the most dangerous hands since it’s independence…

  3. Terrorist Modi who was banned from entering the USA for 10 years because of his designated terrorist status first he kill and lynch minorities and than wish them on EID and Christmas there’s limit to absurdity aswell

  4. Well what ever you write or say.. Or how you say it.. The fact is both countries need to change, if they would not change they can’t move forward. So as we see Pakistan is changing, but India which is going around trying to prove that its better than Pakistan.. Well couid do more work.. India should stop getting into comparison and move forward. As Pakistan is growing now.. India be far behind very soon in a social life..

  5. I am still trying to understand the sense of this article that the writer tries to compare or misunderstood that Pakistan is on its way to become a secular country. Then the answer is no it does not want to become secular, but instead spread tolerance among the people. The PM cannot be a christian or Hindu coz the country is an Islamic republic. As far as tolerance is concerned, I can still testify that there is a lot of religious tolerance in the country among common people when it comes to minorities. People are least bothered on Asia bibi expect a few mullas and this doesn’t happen on every day basis, but when it happens its exploited like a free prostitute with no mercy on any end.

  6. IK did it the right way, the way it should be. Check out other muslim leaders’ messages on Xmas to understand what I’m referring to. Similarly other leaders wish Eid to all Muslims not to everyone in the world! Dude, you need to check out the facts before you start shooting out the words. It’s so funny you made India comparison on this…. makes no sense at all.

  7. You are right author, Pakistan is different from India ,it matches in school of thought with the Western world….in USA ,Canada ,Europe we wishe merry Christmas to those who celebrate and wish happy holidays to those who don’t ,you Indian are nothing but a plethora of propaganda box.i am a Jew and agree with the prime minister’s Christmas greetings

  8. Yep, and of course everything is hunky dory for the minorities in India. The BJP and it’s cohorts love Muslims and are doing everything in their power to let them know that they are equal citizens of India and should not let the occasional lynchings worry them too much. Demolishing their mosques or changing names of cities is all a part of integration and has nothing to do with a state sponsored strategy of hindutva. People in glass houses—–

  9. More Pakistan obsession from the hate mongering Indian media.

    Not every tweet needs to go through a us vs them filter. Not every word Imran says needs to be forced into comparison. It’s a tweet for those celebrating Christmas FFS stop this opportunistic obsession

  10. When I started to read the article, I sensed that the article is very biased towards PAKISTAN and then I scrolled up and I wasn’t surprised that the article is written by most likely a Hindu. What else could you expect, except a very biased writing against Imran Khan and PAKISTAN.

    • Saeed Iqbal After wiping out Hindus and Sikhs – reducing their population from 8 million (28%) in 1947 to 2 million (1%) today Imran Khan is talking about minority rights. In 1947 Pakistan’s Sikh population was 3 to 4 million. Today there’re only 200,000 Sikhs left in Pakistan. Sikhs have been eliminated from Balochistan and Pakhtunistan. Now they are concentrated in few cities in Panjab. Hindu and Sikh population would be about 60 million, instead of 2 million if they were allowed to live in Pakistan. It is easy to pretend to protect minorities when there are no minorities left to protect. The fact is the concept of freedom of religion does not exist in Pakistan or any Muslim majority country.

  11. PM Imran Khan is blowing gently onto cold buttermilk, lest it scald him. He is a citizen of the world, at least that much his cricketing career has taught him. His problem is a country that has been pummelled out of shape by successive fundamentalists, Gen Zia ul Haq being a major sinner. For a Pakistani premier to talk about respecting the rights of minorities is a welcome development.

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