Pakistan and India’s relations have been deteriorate on a daily basis, especially after Uri attack and in coming days it seems to be worse. While I recognise that the state of Pakistan is inundated by a number of issues, with terrorism topping the list, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to bring to the notice of our rulers — especially the prime minister — the dilemmas faced by the minorities of Pakistan and the failure of successive governments to protect their legitimate and constitutional rights. Since the inception of Pakistan, minorities, though having played a vital role in the progress of the country, have never been treated as its true components. Numerous issues regarding their rights have been discussed many a time on the floor of parliament but to no avail.
he minorities of Pakistan are not asking for the moon. They just want the words of the Quaid to be put to practice and consequent provisions made for them in the Constitution under Articles 20 (freedom to profess religion and manage religious institutes), 21 (safeguarding against taxation for purposes of any particular religion), 22 (equal rights to educational institutions in respect of religion, etc), 25 (equality of citizens), 26 (no discrimination in respect to access to public places), 27 (safeguarding against discrimination in services), 28 (preservation of language, script and culture) and most importantly, Article 36 (protection of minorities), to be fulfilled.
For a moment, let us forget the Quaid’s pledge and focus on the ruling PML-N’s manifesto, which promised minorities the following: 1) all steps will be taken to avoid the misuse of blasphemy law and those proven to have made false accusation shall be punishable under the law; 2) necessary steps will be taken to stop forced conversions lawfully; 3) minorities protection bill will be introduced to solve their matrimonial and other issues; 4) hate material in syllabus of schools, colleges and universities will be abolished so that there is no discrimination between Muslims and other religious minorities; 5) interfaith harmony in educational institutions will be introduced; 6) five per cent job quota for minorities will be ensured; 7) non-Muslims will be given an opportunity to contest the election on general seats; and 8) a non-Muslim chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) will be appointed.
To the best of my knowledge, not a single promise made by the PML-N has been met. In addition, the Supreme Court judgment of June 19, 2014 didn’t bear fruit either. The three-member bench headed by then chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani stated the following: 1) the federal government should constitute a task force tasked with developing a strategy of fostering religious tolerance; 2) appropriate curricula should be developed at school and college levels to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance; 3) the federal government should take appropriate steps to ensure that hate speech on social media is discouraged and delinquents are brought to justice under the law; 4) a national council for minorities’ rights should be constituted and the function of the said council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realisation of the rights and safeguards provided to minorities under the Constitution; 5) a special police force should be established with professional training to protect places of worship of minorities; 6) the federal and provincial governments should ensure the enforcement of the relevant policy directives regarding reservation of quota for minorities in all services; 7) in all cases of violation of any of the rights guaranteed under the law or desecration of places of worship of minorities, the concerned law-enforcement agencies should promptly take action, including the registration of criminal cases against delinquents.
I question that if the Quaid, the Supreme Court and all major political parties appear to be on the same page over the issue of minority rights, then what has stopped successive governments from improving their socioeconomic condition? The recent most agonising issue for minorities, particularly for those living in Sindh, is of forced conversions. In the absence of religion conversion laws in the country, some sections of the clergy are handing over ‘certificates’ of conversion to alleged kidnappers. Reportedly, 1,000 girls are forcibly converted every year in the country. The number may, in fact, be more if unreported cases of lower caste girls working at farmlands of feudal lords were to be included. From Rinkle Kumari to Anjali Menghwar, the issue of forced conversions has created a ripple effect, especially within the Hindu community, forcing many of its members to migrate from Pakistan. If the aforesaid provisions of the Constitution guarantee equality, then how can anyone be forced to change his or her religion?
It is time for the government to take serious measures to mitigate the pain of minorities. The National Action Plan also carries a provision regarding the protection of minorities. Therefore, it is only fair that the PML-N announces immediate implementation of its manifesto. For starters, as a gesture of good will, the government can announce the handing over of the historic temple and gurdwara situated at Saidpur village, Islamabad to the Hindu and Sikh communities respectively. The fact that there is not a single functional temple in the capital and the Ram Temple at Saidpur village is not being given due reverence, the act of handing over of places of worship to their own respective communities will create a soft image of Pakistan. And yes, Mr Prime Minister, you can appoint the chairman ETPB from within the minority community, just by affixing a signature. Published in The Express Tribune by Lal Chand Malhi
Recent, 43 Bonded Hindus Labours have been rescued.
With the efforts of the Karachi office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the law enforcement agencies in Balochistan have rescued 43 members of the Hindu community, including women in children, in a remote area of the Turbat district who had been kept as bonded labourers for three years.
Shankar Bheel, a Hindu community member from the Mirpurkhas district, submitted an application on October 3 at the HRCP Karachi office and complained that three people, Abdul Wahid Brohi, Ghulam Hussain Makrani and Haji Majeed Makrani, had kept 43 members of his community in detention and forcing them to work in the fields without giving them salaries and sufficient food, said Abdul Hai, an HRCP Karachi official.
“The HRCP contacted its coordinator Ghani Parwaz in Makran for help, who made efforts to resolve the issue but could not have them released,”
“The landlord did not allow us to move beyond a certain area,” one of the rescued people said. A very noticeable dimension in lower Sindh is the large numbers of non Muslim farmers, mostly as Hindu migrants from the arid areas of Tharparkar, states an International Labour Organisation’s report titled ‘Bonded Labour in Pakistan’.
A Hindu Girl sold by Police man Rs 50,000/= First she was rescued from abductors by Police then sold and forcefully converted to Islaim and married to muslim.
In another case of human rights abuse of religious minority in Pakistan, a Hindu girl was allegedly sold for Rs 50,000 by a police official in Sindh province. Three days after being sold, the girl was forcibly converted to Islam and married to one, Zafar Masoori.
The victim identified as Anila Bagri had been abducted some time ago in her hometown, Mirpur Mathelo of Ghotki district. She was later rescued by police but her ordeal just began here. One of the police officials, Sajjad Qazi held her back and did not allow her to go home.
When Anila’s family came to know about her rescue from the abductors, they approached Mirpur Mathelo police. But, Sajjad Qazi refused to let go the girl. He demanded Rs 50,000 from the parents of Anila. This led to a protest by the locals.
But, soon Qazi handed Anila to one of his friends, Masoori in return for money. Local media reported the matter and built up pressure on the administration forcing an inquiry. Ghotki SSP Masood Bangesh was tasked to conduct the probe. Pending investigation, SSP suspended the accused police official
Meanwhile, amidst recent reports of atrocities on minorities in Sindh, Hindus of the area have staged protests at several places.
“It’s a matter of routine in Pakistan to abduct a Hindu girl, rape her or force her to convert for Niqah. This has been the norm in the country since 1947. They think that Hindus should be driven out of Pakistan to make it a total Islamic nation and Anila Bagri was nothing but a part of the plot,” said Rajkumar, a local.