Incidents of intolerance not new to Pakistan: Author

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New Delhi, Jan 4: Pakistani author Haroon Khalid says that incidents of intolerance have been happening in his country for a few years now and hopes that India's bubble of "tolerant" silent majority is never busted.

One of the biggest such incidents in Pakistan, according to Khalid, was the assassination of Punjab's governor Salman Taseer by his fanatic security guard.

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"Salman Taseer came out in the defence of a Christian woman called Asia Bibi, who had been accused of blasphemy and awarded capital punishment.

What was the scariest thing though that Taseer's assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was projected as a hero, a defender of Islam, while Taseer was vilified further after his death," Khalid, who recently penned the book "A White Trail: A Journey Into The Heart Of Pakistan's Religious Minorities," told PTI.

"For a lot of analysts the death of Taseer represents the time when the myth about the silent tolerant majority was busted," he adds. India, so it seems, fortunately has so far been safe from such a horrible incident, he says.

"However I do see a lot of parallels between the condition in India and Pakistan of a few years ago. First is the 'myth' that the majority of 'us' are tolerant while it is only a vocal minority that is intolerant. This is a dangerous assumption.

"Acts of hatred and intolerance tend to happen in contexts and environments where there is a tolerance for such intolerance. Like Pakistan, one would hope that India's bubble of 'tolerant' silent majority is never busted," he says.

Another parallel, he says that he is noticing "is this idea of hush, to not talk about growing intolerance, fearing that this would somehow project a negative image of the country".

"Many people in Pakistan were raising this voice in Pakistan when things looked bad here... One hears similar voices in India and that is not the voice of sanity," he says.

He also rues that religious fundamentalism and intolerance have seeped into the Pakistani society and have become an everyday reality. Khalid, also a freelance journalist, describes his book, published by Westland, primarily as a travelogue. 

PTI 

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