The Case of Prem Chand Pakistani & The Constitution

After the May 28, 2010 AirBlue airplane crash in Islamabad, the coffin of one of the deceased, Mr. Prem Chand, who happened to be a Hindu, and a member of some Youth Parliament, which some kids have made to pretend they are something important (I think they were at least doing something constructive other than whining), was marked as Kafir .

According to Dr. Awab Alvi‘s blog, which quoted the Express Tribune that the word was first prominently written in black on the coffin and then was outlined with red, to make it more dramatic and to emphasize its importance.

Kafir is a word of Arabic which literally means the “one who covers or hides”, among other things, since Arabic is a much deeper language than we think, but in this context and as is the popular use of this term among Muslims, it means an “infidel”, or the one who does not believe in Allah, or God.

It  surely was insensitive to mark the coffin of this citizen, and a huge fuss has been made by a lot of people in the country about it on popular and social media. But in all honesty, and as a believer in the equal rights to all the citizens of the country, regardless of clan or creed,  I rule out any malign intentions behind this action.

Clearly it would have been done by authorities to separate the coffin for identity or funeral reasons, because Muslims are almost as obsessive as any other religious group  in their ritualistic habits. Even if that is not the case, we have made too much fuss out of nothing. Besides, this term is not meant to be insulting unless someone takes offense for some odd reason. Maybe, some thought that Prem Chand was a Muslim, or should have been one. As far as I know, only Muslims and Ahmedis mind being called Kafirs.

If all those who are furious on this event are so sincere to bringing secular values to Pakistan, why are they not furious over the Constitution that has been passed on a communal basis and only emphasizing the values of one religion? Religious discrimination has become a part of Pakistani culture, and it is only promoted by a constitution which represents one community more than others.

No wonder “coffins should not be marked by such a word”, which is not derogatory by any means, but highlighting these insignificant issues will only help the world laugh at Pakistan, which they are already doing. I know many people around the world, whose sole entertainment is ridiculing Pakistan for one reason or another.

I am against the persecution of the so-called “minorities”, as they call them here in Pakistan, and maybe even in India (apologies to Indian friends if that is not the case, mentioning anyway). But well, every now and then, it costs nothing to use your brain and see what matters you should be trumpeting out in front of the world and which you should not, if you want a strong Pakistan, that is. Given the behavior of a number of journalists in Pakistan, it is not difficult to assume otherwise.

But think about your constitution. The taboo subject.

We tend to impulsively react to such actions, but do not address the deep-rooted prejudices in our society which manifest in one form or another. As a nation we have made it a habit not to address the root of the problem and whine and condemn and protest and forget. Life is too short for that, and guess what: people don’t give a damn. But most Pakistanis do not talk about the constitution, a taboo in the society of course, just like sex.

In the blog that was referred to earlier, reporting this “tragic incident”, I mean the marking and not the death of the poor fellow (not being insensitive), the author had apologized to the friends and family of Prem Chand and the Hindu community of Pakistan for the marking of the coffin. It was a noble notion indeed, but really I find no reason to apologize to them for that. I would rather apologize to them for the discriminating constitution.

As Pakistanis, we should apologize to the Hindus, the Christians, the Sikhs, the Parsis, the Ahmedis and all other so-called minorities and non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan, who deserve as much rights as any of the so-called Muslim majority citizens in the constitution, sans any discrimination.

At least I would do so.

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2 Responses

  1. Amazing post. I have bookmarked your site. I am looking forward to reading more

  2. Very well written. Balanced view and right sensitivity.
    Christians & Muslims are considered minorities in India. I could never understand why Sikhs are not thought so (esp by Indian political parties). Perhaps beacuse of their close affinity to Hindus. Which makes me think, then Ahmedis should not be minority as they are closer to Muslims.

    ‘Kaafir’ denotes a derogatory term in India. To mark such on a coffin is to insult the dead. Frankly, how can a dead person be of any religion?

    Shirdi Sai Baba, a fakir who is revered by all Hindu’s said this more than a 100 years ago: “Allah Malik” and “Sabka Malik Ek”.

    So frankly I cannot understand where the line that differentiates Islam and Hindu exists.

    Ignorance divides people. I reiterate again, the border between Pak and India should be open.

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