Boris Johnson is on cunning form. Getting off his bike to swoop down like the caring-and-sharing politician that everyone — and their cat — knows him not to be. Beseeching Britain to do the decent thing and offer Aasia Bibi asylum. That’s all it took. For Theresa May and Sajid Javid to almost both fall down. Dusting themselves off with a pocket full of posies. Thus has the Brexit side-show begun. The battle for the crown is on. The Prime Minister has, of course, stalled on the question of cold shelter. Seemingly fearing the threat of violence to diplomatic missions in Pakistan. Not to mention huge losses in opportunity costs. There has even been talk in undiplomatic circles of how the Foreign Office allowed itself to be held to ransom by a rag-tag mob of rampaging mullahs. Not there. But here. In this land of make believe. Well, you never know. An un-heated argument broke out between a friend and myself. Over something I had written and that he refused to read. All because it was about Aasia Bibi. And as far as he was concerned — she is simply an irrelevant peasant woman who deserves to be shot Except that anti-western sentiment has never been the exclusive domain of bearded and angry old men; shouting and fist-pumping the air. Whatever a certain US news weekly might argue. Equally extremist views may be found lurking among the well-suited and booted. Those who have, more often than not, secured the foreign degree-passport double whammy. With some taking the plunge to move overseas permanently. This is something of which I was reminded last week. When an un-heated argument broke out between a friend and myself. Over something I had written and that he refused to read. All because it was about Aasia Bibi. And as far as he was concerned — she is simply an irrelevant peasant woman who deserves to be shot. Along with the two Muslim women who had falsely accused her of blasphemy. For wasting the Supreme Court’s (SC) precious time. As if the plight of this poor Catholic woman’s life is little more than an inconvenience; an interruption to that dam-ned non-judicial business of crowdfunding. My pal is a Lahori who has been living in London for a little over a decade. He was fortunate enough to stay on after completing a post-graduate degree; which is what he had wanted. Not least because his adopted city offers the kind of alternative lifestyle that would have to be kept forever under wraps here in this country. It has also exposed him to Islamophobia. For there in Fortress Europe vestiges of Sunni Muslim privilege carry no hard currency. Apart from when it perhaps comes to being short-changed for prevailing stereotypes propagated by politicians and the media alike in a bid to de-humanise. Thereby rendering the sealing of borders and the orchestrated fear of the other more palatable to those perched in the cheap seats. All that being said, I am still at a loss as to understand my friend’s utter lack of compassion for Pakistan’s religious minorities. Especially now that he is walking in their shoes somewhat. Yet truth is often sadder than fiction. And herein lies the rub. Many educated and well-heeled Pakistanis who up sticks and head West succumb to the pressure — self-inflicted or otherwise — of trying to single-handedly represent their homeland abroad. In the best possible light. Ostensibly to counter mainstream narratives focusing on terrorism and religious fundamentalism; and little else. Regrettably, however, it is but a short hop, skip and jump from reclaiming the narrative to seeking to control it entirely. When this happens, the fallout can be devastating. Verbal attacks on, say, the Beeb over claims of bias for reporting how Christians here have been targeted in this or that terrorist attack rapidly give way to claims of conspiracies against Islam. On the grounds that more Muslims will have died in pretty much any instance of violence. Raising the issue of demographics, nonetheless, can bring with it accusations of entertaining anti-state persuasions. And whether unintentional or not, the upshot is that the minority community under fire is not even allowed ownership of its communal grief. In the past, I have heard friends insist that Pakistan’s minorities suffer no discrimination. After all, Sikhs and Hindus have their own marriage legislation. But self-determination in personal laws is far removed from broader acceptance; not to mention the upholding of constitutional rights and international obligations. Pretending otherwise is to embrace a wilful myopia that endeavours to silence already marginalised voices. In fact, it is tantamount to white middle-class men venturing to tell Muslims in Britain that Islamophobia is but a dystopian un-reality that rests in the eye of the beholder. And when this happens, instead of challenging the privileged majority — particularly necessary in a country that fights election after election on an anti-immigration agenda — the temptation is to cast minority groups here in Pakistan as pawns in a game of retributive tit-for-tat. For this is the path of least resistance. Theresa May should, of course, reconsider the question of asylum. And not just because BoJo the Old Etonian has called shotgun on this front. Simply put, it is the right thing to do. And all the un-reluctant fundamentalists will have to get over it. Or else move back to Pakistan and contribute positively to this country in a meaningful way that extends beyond remittances and flying into vote. As they continue to sit in the West, with foreign passport clutched firmly in hand, while cautioning others not to badmouth their homeland. The writer is the Deputy Managing Editor, Daily Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @humeiwei Published in Daily Times, November 18th 2018.