WRITING STYLE: 4.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4.5/5
“Government school textbooks are ﬁlled with references labelling the Hindus as mischievous and conniving… Over the years, this state propaganda has resulted in the Hindu becoming a taboo in this Muslim puritanical society. In order to avoid the social prejudice associated with their religion, a lot of Hindus have now taken up Christian and Muslim names to avoid being noticed in society.” – Haroon Khalid, A White Trail
When I first picked up A White Trail by Haroon Khalid, I had no idea what to expect from it. One look at the blurb was enough to convince me to give this book a try.
I had been reading a lot of socio-political nonfiction (especially memoirs) and this one felt like a good choice.
Read on to know about my thought on this book.
What to expect?
A White Trail is a book that should be read by everyone who believes in equality and the right to freedom of religion. It should be read by everyone to understand how Pakistan really treats its minorities.
The author, who is a Pakistani himself, was personally engaged in a project called The CAP Minority Project.
Over a course of time, he collected over two hundred oral interviews and attended a lot of religious festivals of Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians. He did this to get a clearer picture of the religious diversity of Pakistan and the struggles which its minorities face.
Why is it relevant?
Today the Muslim population of Pakistan stands at 97%. When it comes to the other 3%, a major part of it belongs to the Ahmadiyya community.
Ahmadiyyas, who were earlier Muslims and were declared non-Muslims after a constitutional amendment, also face the same kind of religious persecution that other minorities do.
Pakistan has an ugly history of demonizing its minorities; so much so that most of them feel its better to convert than to be excluded or sometimes even killed.
The reason behind the name
According to the author, the name A White Trail is because of two reasons.
“Trail” is used because the author went through the physical journey or pilgrimage through the various religious festivals, monuments, temples and shrines. Thus, trail is used to denote this physical journey.
“White” is used because it is said that the white part in the flag of Pakistan represents the religious minorities of Pakistan.
The writing style of the author
The author uses simple and easy to understand language. He relies a lot on first-hand data through oral interviews.
The process and the methodology that he has adopted for writing this book has been satisfactorily explained at many places. He also mentions the limitations of his work with respect to certain geographical boundaries.
For readers who aren’t much aware of other religions like Sikhism, Baha’ism and Zoroastrianism, the author provides an introduction in simple language which helps the reader in easily understanding the basic principles and also the subtle nuances that
Be prepared to be shocked!
I would refrain from delving much about the atrocities that are committed and the prejudices and hatred that run deep against the minorities in Pakistan.
It’s because I simply believe that it is for the reader to know and understand that as a state, Pakistan has not just failed its minorities, but also sponsored the hatred that they have to go through every day.
“The derogatory word ‘chuhra’ is used to refer to not only a low-caste Christian but any Christian, irrespective of caste and socio-economic status. A lot of low-end hotels and restaurants not only in rural areas but even in metropolitan cities like Lahore have separate utensils for Christians.”
Who can read The White Trail?
A White Trail can be picked by anyone who has a basic understanding of English. A beginner level reader can easily understand the simple narration and simple English that the author makes use of.
It all boils down to the entertainment quotient
A White Trail is a book which makes for an interesting and captivating read. Once you pick up a certain chapter, it is difficult to put it down until you get to the end.
It wouldn’t be an understatement when I say that the book is as entertaining as any nonfiction can be.
Pick up the book
- If you enjoy nonfiction.
- If you like socio-political reads.
- If you want to know about the horrible way in which Pakistan treats its religious minorities.
- And finally, because when you read, you know. And awareness is the first step in bringing about a positive change.
Skip the book
- If you don’t enjoy nonfiction.
- If socio-political books are not your thing.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy a copy of A White Trail: A Journey Into the Heart of Pakistan’s Religious Minorities using the link below.