Being a Christian in Pakistan, or any minority gives you a completely different perspective from your fellow countrymen.
By: Anonymous [name has been withheld to protect the person]
Most of the people think of peace or silence or nature when they think of Murree. When I think of Murree, I recall shame and the feeling of not fitting in, I recall the feeling of being different.
For the first eleven years of my life, I lived in Murree with my two younger brothers and my mother who worked in a reputable college of Pakistan. She was one of the two teachers of that college who were Christian and while the other one had fairly older children, we were pretty young. As far away as this college was from civilization, it was also pretty far away from reality. At parties or get-togethers or just playing with other children, they never forgot to remind me that I was a Christian and beneath them. I didn’t have any friends. I was bullied. I became highly submissive and introverted.
And thus came the feeling of shame. I started feeling ashamed of being a Christian in Pakistan.
Then thankfully we moved and I grew up and realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of. Just because I followed a different religion did not mean that I was beneath anyone or they had a right to treat me like I had been treated in the past. But then I started realizing that we were indeed different.
We were different because we Christians had to watch what we were saying all the time.
At school during the class of Islamic studies when the teacher used to say things that were not at all what Christianity preached, I couldn’t stand up and tell her that she had it all wrong. I could not talk about what I believed in for the fear of being targeted. I started hearing about people being killed just because they chose to defend people of my belief and their murderers being celebrated for that. I realized that Christians were probably killed for money or for falling in love with a Muslim girl or just existing and nobody could do anything about it for you could be next.
I could not even talk to my closest friends because, since childhood, I had seen my religion being used against me.
I clearly remember once in Murree a boy said to me that he was better than me because he offered namaz five times a day and I went to Church only once a week. And since this country was taken for the Muslims from predominantly Christians, I should leave too and go to a country that belonged to Christians. This was only one of quite a few things that he said to me that day only because I had refused to give him one of my many cartoon movies. The reason I had refused was because once before I had given him one and he had broken it and I was a possessive child when it came to my things. Eventually, I gave in and gave him the cartoon movie for as a child I did not know what else to do to make him stop.
But this idea of not belonging to Pakistan was time and time again thrown in my face.
I belong to a privileged family. My whole family is pretty educated with some holding PhDs, being practicing doctors, businessmen, and educators. Most of them have at least a Masters and all of them hold jobs that are reputable even outside of Pakistan. I myself hold a BA Hons degree and I’ve often faced statements like you have everything or we don’t treat our minorities the way other countries treat Muslims or the famous “You should go to India. They have it worse there”. Because obviously everything falls down to how better Pakistan is as a country than India.
Let me tell you, as a Christian I can say it with credibility that Pakistan needs to stop taking pride in how they treat their minorities because there’s nothing to be proud of.
And since I’m penning down this heartfelt note to my fellow Pakistanis, another thing I’d like to mention is the double standards that we have here in Pakistan. If a Christian converts and embraces Islam, they are celebrated as to someone who just came to life but if a Muslim accepts Christ as his Saviour, a contest follows as to who would kill them and receive special privileges in Jannah.
This is just one example of how people of the Faith have to at times stay hidden. This fear of hiding is something that most of the minorities deal with all the time. The fear of not having to upset a fellow Muslim becomes really tiresome which we live with all our lives. The fear of my words pissing a Muslim off that he could use a simple law against me and get me moving on to the heavens again takes a toll on a person. So yeah, we don’t have it better than minorities in other countries.
I agree I have everything. I’m educated. I have a pretty amazing family. I have lovely friends, most of them Muslims of course. But here’s the difference
On the outside, I have everything. The shame of being a Christian at the age of 11 has changed into pride at being a Christian at age 22. But one thing these 11 years did not change is the feeling of being different.
We are different because Pakistan sees us differently. We are different because we grow up with a fear. We are different because this fear does not develop and then go away as we grow up like any normal fear.
This fear only becomes stronger over time. This fear only becomes stronger for we realize overtime that these demons are not just imaginary, they are real. And these demons are present in each and every Pakistani who sees us differently, as lesser, as beneath them. And these demons are ready to eat us up as soon as given a chance.
Cover Image Source: tribune.com.pk