30 November, 2020

A Start In Lahore

It’s time minorities get a place in Pakistan’s official narrative and polity

A Start In Lahore

The May 2013 elections of Pakistan saw many firsts: a youth movement led by Imran Khan’s PTI ensured unprecedented levels of voter turnout (60 per cent), while Nawaz Sharif's victory was the first-ever democratic transfer of power in the country's 66-year history.

Less known is the fact that the democratic path also provided a voice to Pakistan’s minorities, who have faced intensifying bias and suffered severe hardship since 9/11 as soft targets of a hardening Muslim identity. During the elections, we saw Veero Kolhi, a freed bonded labourer, contest polls against  powerful landlord interests in rural Sindh. As expec­ted, she did not win, but nonetheless made a statement for the rights of up to eight million bonded labourers of Pakistan. Post-elections, Ramesh Singh Arora, a social worker, has become the first Sikh since 1947 to walk the corridors of Lahore’s Punjab ass­embly—where Sikhs comprised 20 per cent of its members in the First Legislative Assembly of Punjab ele­­­cted in 1937. Though a Sikh in the Punjab...



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