Recently, we heard about two bakeries in Karachi that refused to write ‘Merry Christmas’ on cakes. Both Delizia and Aunty Munaver turned away customers who wanted cakes with Christmas greetings. It is deeply disturbing to see such acts of bigotry in a country whose founder and others who fought for its freedom believed in rights for all and equality regardless of caste, creed, and faith. Yet we see how non-Muslims in Pakistan continue to face discrimination on a regular basis.
Today, when we celebrate Christmas with our Christian brethren and wish them a day full of joy, we hope that our society will change for the better. Today is also the birth anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who taught us the meaning of tolerance and who believed in pluralism and inclusiveness.
We often repeat and quote Jinnah’s August 11 speech but it is important to reiterate what he said again and again: “We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”
This is what Pakistan stands for as this is what our founder taught us. It was good to see many people raising their voices against those bakeries that refused to write Merry Christmas on their cakes. It was social media outcry that led to Delizia bakery management on the backfoot and saying that it was an individual act. Whether it was an individual act or not can be ascertained as this isn’t the first time that such an incident took place. This year, we saw the horrible lynching of a Sri Lankan national. The government took strong exception to the incident and promised to take action against all those responsible. But the incident also showed how intolerance has seeped into our society. It is this bigotry and intolerance that has to end. On the birth anniversary of Jinnah, we should pledge to make this Jinnah’s Pakistan and not a Pakistan where extremism prospers. Once again, Merry Christmas to all those celebrating.