New York

Key Questions

Discrimination is carried out in different societies through various policies,
procedures and structures. Cultural and religious trends also matter.

By Syed Kamran Hashmi | July 2020

Although most Pakistanis hold no connection with the United States - they neither live there nor do they understand its political dynamics - a small segment among them still finds it necessary to comment on American events. Quite often, they bring up the issue of racial discrimination in their discourse, criticize white supremacy, decry the inhumane treatment of blacks and voice police brutality as if they carry expert qualifications in the subject.

Jumping into the fray, many columnists join in by lecturing on the importance of justice, laying down the principles of equal rights in stable communities, predicting a grim future of a superpower or concluding that the end of American hegemony is approaching, that the rise of China is coming and that one day the Yuan will take over the US dollar.

This sounds funny. You cannot take the comments of an ordinary Westerner seriously if that person talks about the culture of the sub-continent after listening to news channels or watching Indian films. You also cannot give credence to a Pakistani if he weighs in on American culture after watching the Game of Thrones, Keeping up with the Kardashians or Judge Judy.

This discussion is not about how George Floyd died, the legal case filed against the police officers involved in the killing, the protests that swept the whole country or the looting that took place during the protests. It is also not about how immaturely the US administration or the US President behaved, or how such a situation must be handled in future. It is not about what police reforms are needed to improve the relationship between a predominantly white police force and non-white citizens. It is definitely not about how badly the black communities need help. Major investments must be made into the resources of health and education to fight crime in the neighborhoods.

Pakistan does not have a black population, the second largest minority in America. At best, for the people of Pakistan, black lives only matter as a matter of principle not as a matter of political reality. We have our own minorities though, both ethnic and religious, who suffer and are ignored.

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