Royal Holloway University of London Department of History
and The University of Leeds School of History
Event Date: 9 and 10 September 2010
Royal Asiatic Society 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1
Tahir Kamran – The Christian Minority in the Pakistani Punjab
This study examines the status of the Christians in the post-colonial Pakistani Punjab. With religious ideology propounded as the raison d’être, the status of the minorities has remained a problematic of enormous complexity throughout Pakistan’s 62-year history. Incidents like Shantinagar, Gojra and Sumbrial in the Punjab are testimony to the exacerbated level of intolerance of the state and the society towards the Christians over last two decades. These incidents of physical violence are relatively recent but they have a political and historical context. After a few introductory assertions as background, the study brings some important events into focus that have had a lasting impact on the polity of Pakistan in general and on the Punjab in particular. The role of the religiously orthodox section such as the ulema is also scrutinized. The emergence of terrorist outfits with Central Punjab as their breeding ground tightened the noose around beleaguered minority groups as well as Shias. That makes it imperative to devote some space for the advent and proliferation of such religiously-motivated organizations with exclusionary agendas. Events such as the Objective Resolution, insistence on religion as the sole determinant of the national ideology and culture with its clear inscription in the constitutional text, contributed significantly in marginalizing the minorities. Therefore the critical analysis of such ideology-driven initiatives forms the part of this narrative.