Almost 10% of Pakistan’s population is its minorities, yet the voices of these communities are often suppressed – between forced conversions, abductions, terrorism at their places of worship and target killings, Pakistan’s minorities face an uphill battle just to exist.
SOC Films presents a series of stories that highlights important issues that affect minorities living in Pakistan, while attempting to create a discourse about the experience of being a minority in Pakistan.
Using the mediums of podcast and film and from diverse perspectives, ‘The White in the Flag’ project has documented the experiences of Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, and Hazara Shias who all share their stories in their own words.
This set of programmes aims to challenge received opinions of how minorities are perceived, and educate people about the rights given to minorities by the Constitution of Pakistan.
Series - Forsaken
The violence that Hazara children witness in their youth has an everlasting impact on their futures. They are constant onlookers to the pain and violence of that their community suffers. Yet, despite the dire experience of growing up in what is effectively an outdoor prison, a few find hope in their passions. For the girls of the Hazara Football Academy, football gives them freedom that daily persecution attempts to take away.
The story centers in and around the city of Ghotki in Sindh, a city with one of the largest populations of Hindus in Pakistan, where a spell of rioting took place after a 14-year-old Muslim student accused his Hindu headmaster of committing blasphemy by insulting the Prophet Muhammad
A young businessman and a local shop owner describe the feelings of fear, anger, and uncertainty they feel for their families and community after the riots ended.
The Christian minority community, in the conservative region of Peshawar-KPK, is still recovering from a destructive bomb attack that claimed the lives of 127 innocent people in September 2013, at Peshawar’s All Saints Church.
The story centers on the traumatic loss one woman faced and her struggles in the aftermath of the attack. Losing her husband, daughter, and son on the same day in the bomb attack changed her life forever. While still deeply traumatized and struggling to recover from the psychological effects induced by the devastating attack, she shares fond memories of her family and how the senseless act of terror that September day still haunts her.
In this episode we hear from a young boy belonging to the Hazara ethno-religious community, who lost his father and elder brother in a terrorist attack that targeted a bus full of Shia pilgrims returning from Iraq. This already marginalized community frequently comes under attack by militants, primarily because of their Shia faith and different appearance, making them an easy target.
While the event changed the boy’s outlook on life in an instant and pushed him into a spiral of depression, he started to channel his emotions by composing poetry which signified the anguish of loss and the experience of living restricted in a ghettoized environment in Quetta, Balochistan.
A young Hazara/Baloch rights activist also shares her personal accounts of the systematic targeting of Hazaras in Quetta, as well as talking about struggles of the Hazara youth community in the region.
The constitution of Pakistan declares the Ahmadiyya sect non-Muslim and makes an exception to its commitment of freedom of religion by not allowing Ahmadis the right of freedom to practice their religion. This constitutional amendment, made in 1974, incentivized Islamic fundamentalist elements to openly discriminate against Ahmadis as their behavior is protected by the law.
Our story focuses on a young 23-year-old student belonging to the Ahmadiyya sect. He describes his lived experience in Pakistan as an Ahmadi student in Lala Musa and how a former friend launched a vicious defamation campaign against him.
He talks about how being targeted in this way affected him, and what kind of prejudices Ahmadis face on a daily basis – from discrimination in the workplace to being denied basic services in markets and shopping centers.
The story centers on forced conversions and marriages of Hindu girls in Sindh. We hear firsthand about young Hindu girls who have been abducted and forced to convert to Islam by their concerned family members. Through this, we understand the deeply traumatic impacts the practice of forced conversions on Hindu communities.
We also speak with Hindu community leaders about the phenomenon of forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh and the motivating forces behind these abductions.
We speak to veteran Human Rights activist, advocate, and journalist Mr. I.A. Rehman about the various legal and social aspects of minority discrimination in Pakistan. We discuss different minority groups and the different types of discriminatory behavior they face.
Mr. Rehman helps us to understand the historical contexts of certain legal constraints formulated to treat minorities as second class citizens and discuss the manifestation of these legalities through discriminatory social behaviors against minorities in Pakistan.
Over the past few decades, Shias in Pakistan from all socio-economic backgrounds have been increasingly victimized and targeted in a succession of attacks and killings.
In this episode we hear the story of a daughter who tells the tragic story of her father’s brutal death at the hands of sectarianism. He was a practicing doctor in the city of Karachi. The experiences of a Shia family living in Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan city are recounted, as they contemplate an uncertain future in the country
Series - Representation of Minorities in the Media
This film takes a brief look at the issues that have affected the Ahmadi community and examines how constitutional amendments have been used to deny members of this sect the rights of citizenship in Pakistan. It also looks at the production of discourse both by the media and the state to identify how Ahmadis have been treated and presented, and shows how Ahmadis have been systematically demonized by the media as well as how their historic contributions towards the state of Pakistan have also been conveniently erased.
This film highlights the systematic oppression women face on a daily basis at work in the media industry in Pakistan. We are introduced to three veteran female journalists, all of whom describe their individual experiences with harassment. Through their brave stories we understand not only how power is used against womankind, but also see how women are rarely ever safe in public places or even taken seriously in the workplace, and face a constant struggle just to prove their worth.
This film highlights the roles of individual activists in safeguarding the rights of minorities where the state has failed them. Through the contributions of three activists, Mary James Gill, a lawyer and activist, Krishan Sharma, an activist and member of HRCP, and Syed Zafar Abbas Jafri, who spearheads the JDC foundation, we see how these individuals have been working towards the rights of minorities: be it forced conversions, rights of sanitation workers or the welfare of minority communities. Despite threats from extremists, social taboos and prejudice, they remain steadfast in their dedication towards their cause.
This film shows the role of media corporations in inciting hatred towards minorities in Pakistan. It follows the case of the ‘Krishna Mandir’, a new temple that was to be built for the three thousand or more Hindus living in Islamabad, who currently have little or no access to any place of worship. We see the extent to which targeted electronic and social media campaigns are able to mold and manipulate the population at large, and in this case how the government had to reverse its initial decision to allow funds to be provided for construction of the temple complex. The film concludes by saying that the neoliberalisation of the media in Pakistan has reduced news coverage to sensational, unethical reporting.
Series - Minorities Short Films
The film explores the plight of non-Muslims in Pakistan who have to contend with the misuse of blasphemy laws against them. By focusing on the story of a Christian mechanic who was charged with blasphemy for demanding rightful money from his client, the film highlights how Section 295-C has become a tool for exploitation and oppression of non-Muslim minority groups.
This film looks at the terror attack in Peshawar’s All Saints Church and its aftermath for those who suffered from it. While adequate surgery would have healed the wounds the Christian community had to bear, the mental trauma of being targeted by that attack still remains fresh for many. The fear that a similar assault may occur once more lingers on, as does the stigma and oppression of being a minority.
This film shows the pervasiveness of anti-Ahmadi sentiment within Pakistani society. We are introduced to a young man who was recently discovered to be of the Ahmadi faith by his friend. As a result, he tells us of the measures he had to take to protect his own life from danger. In following his story we are made aware of the extent of systematic discrimination members of the Ahmadi community constantly have to face.
Series - Aghaz-e-Safar Episodes on Minorities
In this episode of Aghaz-e-Safar, we explore the concept of ‘zameen’ and show the struggles that some individuals must face in order to protect what is rightfully theirs. It features the story of Waseem Shakir, also an activist, who is trying to protect a Christian graveyard from being taken over by land mafia and converted into a market strip. In the pursuit of territory, land grabbing often leads to disastrous outcomes for poorer communities. We speak with Tasneem Siddiqui who used rather innovative means to provide affordable housing for the poor after he realized that government attempts were futile.
In this episode, we explore the treatment of minorities in this country, and how it goes against the foundation of Pakistan. We speak with a Christian family who fear blasphemy allegations, and Asif Aqeel (an expert on minority rights) who tells us how blasphemy laws are often abused against many innocent minorities for personal gain. We also speak to important local newspaper editors, who work to bring minority stories to light. A Hazara family, who have recently lost loved ones to a targeted bomb blast in Quetta, speak with us about how to help minorities with love and protection, not violence. Finally, we get the chance to ask professors and individuals on the Human Rights Commission about the history of Pakistan and its minorities.