Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s conversation on Islamophobia with Home Secretary Theresa May in London seems mired in the usual contradictions that have so far come to define Pakistan’s policies on religion. To date, there is little coherency on what role the government of Pakistan wants religion to play at the level of parliament and resulting social narratives. One can sift through historical events, Islamists, dictators and various constitutional amendments, but the buck stops usually at the Dec.16th attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar. That was supposed to be Pakistan’s “defining moment,” a moment of sudden and complete enlightenment that lit the bulbs in the collective brain of the nation’s leadership: the realisation that there was simply no more room for ambiguity on religion and religiously motivated violence.

Admittedly, discrimination against Muslims in the West has increased in recent years. But this is a natural consequence of increased violence by Muslims in the Islamic and secular world. Democracies in the West, despite inaccurate and biased media reporting, have evolved to the extent that there are internal checks and balances that do kick in, at least at an intellectual level so the public can engage with the problem. Case in point is Germany. As the new right wing movement called “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident,” (PEGIDA) gained steam with 25,000 marchers taking to the streets of Dresden, 100,000 people rallied in counter-demonstrations all across Germany on the same night. Contrast that with a violent rally of a few hundred blasphemy-law supporters in Pakistan and a silent majority on whom the power of perception and expression is lost. Thus, the image is always one-sided. Democracy loses and extremists win. Chaudhry Nisar would do well not to make Islam and Islamophobia the focus of talks at the international level to appease religious parties, and focus on the various degrees of religious and cultural intolerance prevalent within Pakistan. Let the West handle the West’s problems. Especially with their rather confused religious narrative, our leadership should stick to talk of politics.