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The reality about Minorities in Pakistan that some 'intellectuals' and the Pakistani state does not talk about.

Author: Nidhi Bahuguna
Publication: Myind.net
Date: March 27, 2019
URL:      https://www.myind.net/Home/viewArticle/the-reality-about-minorities-in-pakistan-that-some-intellectuals-and-the-pakistani-state-does-not-talk-about

Pakistan has been given a pass for decades regarding plight of its persecuted minorities consisting of Hindus & Sikhs (1.60%), Christians (1.59%), Ahmadiyyas (.22%) and Shias (10-15%) (As per the 2017 census). The ethnic communities in occupied territories of Gilgit Baltistan fare no better. The ‘Aman ki Asha’ tribe, Lutyens journalists, Left intellegesia, The Amnesty’s of the world and Human rights organisations have maintained an intriguing silence on the state-enabled prosecution of minorities in Pakistan.

Reports of Human rights violations exist, but find no space in either Indian or international Media. Pakistan brings up human rights violation in the Indian side of Kashmir repeatedly at all international forums and lectures India on its treatment of Minorities, without being countered by any Media houses, which faithfully report the lecturing, many even supporting the Pakistan stand.

The recent abduction, conversion and marriage of 2 minor Hindu girls from Sindh, death of their mother and the helpless father’s distraught video has stirred the Nation’s conscience. Sushma Swaraj, MEA, asked for a detailed report signalling a support to the beleaguered Hindus of Pakistan. The usual Taunt from Pakistan followed, asking India to learn how to treat its minorities from Pakistan. In this article I attempt to showcase the plight of persecuted minorities and how the constitution of Pakistan is an enabler of the same, often leaving the minorities with no judicial recourse.

When Pakistan waxes eloquently on its just treatment of minorities, it bases it on three things:

Feb 1948 radio broadcast in USA of Jinnah stating” …. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan.”

Provisions in constitution namely article 20 through 22, 26, 27 which give rights to minorities to follow their religion etc.

Reservation of 10 seats for minorities in Pakistani parliament.

But what most miss are the Islamic provisions in schedule IX of the constitution that override everything else. Quoting Article 227 “All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, in this Part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions.”

The constitution prohibits any non-Muslim from become either the president or the prime minister of Pakistan.

Second Amendment bought in by the so called progressive Z.A Bhutto makes Ahmadiyya Community non-Muslims -this is via the constitution.

Furthermore, Ordinance XX bought by Zia ul Haq effectively disenfranchised Ahmadiyyas as they have to state they are non-Muslims before they can vote.

The Anti Blasphemy law bought in the Pakistan penal code is a tool used to persecute non-Muslims and Muslims like Shias, noorbakhshis and Ahmadiyyas without any legal recourse.

Pakistan has constitutional provisions that allow the majority to prosecute religious minorities, and yet Pakistan gets away by lecturing India on its treatment of minorities, with NO media house or celebrity journalist ever putting up a counter.

Vanishing Hindus of Pakistan

Partition happened and there was mass migration of Hindus from Muslim Majority areas of the new dominion of Pakistan. Yet two regions bucked the trend. One was the Thar area of Sind and the other was the princely state of Amerkot, (now called Umerkot) which had 80% Hindu population but whose ruler acceded to Pakistan. Balochistan which houses two revered Hindu shrines- the Hingalraj shaktipeeth and the Kalat Kali temple, had about 54000 Hindus pre partition. Presently in Umerkot the Hindu population has fallen to below 50% while the Hindus in Balochistan have nearly vanished.

Till 1990 the Hindus in Balochistan were educated, building schools, hospitals etc. Forced conversions, kidnappings, extortions after the killing of Nawab of Kalat forced them to migrate to either India or to safer cities like Karachi. The economically backward Hindus are distributed around Balochistan, often de enfranchised and living under threat of forced conversions.

In Umerkot and Tharparkar, widespread conversions of Hindu girls are taking place. The Sarhandi Pir in Umerkot  Samaro claims that it converts nearly 25 Hindu girls monthly- mostly those belonging to the scheduled castes — Bheel, Meghwar and Kohli. Human rights activists in Umerkot and Mithi, Tharparkar’s largest town, ask: “Why only young girls and women of marriageable age? Why don’t mature women convert? Why is the story always the same — a girl runs away with a Muslim man, converts to Islam and refuses to have anything more to do with her family, who have little choice but to stay quiet?”

Madrasas belonging to Jamaat ul Daawa and Jamaat e Islami are coming up in large numbers, converting scores of Hindu girls and marrying them to Muslim men. In Northern Sindh the Hindus were the affluent class, often owning large tracts of land in prime locations, coveted by Muslim leaders. Since the Hindus do not wish to sell their property, so “a situation is created to drive them out”. That can include kidnapping for ransom as well as forced conversion of their daughters. The economically well off Hindus have sold off their properties at cheap rates and migrated to India or to larger cities of Pakistan.

Dr Ramesh Vankwani, MNA and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said, “There is not even one case in which anyone has willingly converted. These men, who are often already married, kidnap the girls, keep them in their custody for 15 days, rape them, and through threats and intimidation, make the girls say they converted willingly”.(dawn.com, 17 Aug 2017, naziha syed ali article)

The 2017 Hindu marriage act was passed by Sindh Assembly in face of large scale conversions of Hindu girls, and opposition by Muslim religious seminaries, has failed to stem the tide of forced conversions. Interestingly, in the Thar regions, Christians and Ahmadiyyas, persecuted elsewhere are allowed to proselytise and set up centres.

Persecuted Community of Ahmadiyyas

The second amendment and the ordinance XX have declared Ahmadiyya as non-Muslims. They do not vote as they have to declare they are non-Muslims. The Anti-blasphemy law is often invoked against them, as a community. Amendments were proposed within the Election Reform Act of 2017 to the wording of the oath in the Candidate’s Nomination Form for Muslim candidates, which would have made it easier for Ahmadis to vote, violent protests ensued and the Pakistani Government reinstated the original wording of the oath. Following Muslim religious practices like calling Azan, building mosques, reading Quran, offering Namaaz in mosques, greeting with Salam Aliekum is banned for Ahmadiyyas and is a criminal offence. Rabwah, headquarters of Ahmadiyya Community has faced riots in 1953 and 1974. The present Head of the community has migrated to UK.

Targeting of Hazara Shias

Hazara Shias live mainly in Quetta. They have been targeted by the Lashkar e Jhangvi, an offshoot of the Taliban, because their mangloid appearance makes then identifiable. They have been subjected to targeted killings, Bombings and threats. Now they live in walled areas, with guarded entrances. They are targeted once they come out of their enclosures. This has caused them to pull out children from school, colleges, shut down shops and business in the city and retreat to their enclosures. Blasphemy laws are often invoked against them.

Vulnerable Christian community

Christian community is under threat, both from terror outfits like Lashkar e Jhangvi, and the anti-blasphemy laws. In Lahore, 125 houses of Christians were burned down overnight by a mob on blasphemy rumours. Police had evacuated the Christians before the attack so there was no life loss.

In Quetta, shooting by Lashkar e jhangvi on a Christmas Eve mass killed 9 Christians. Blasphemy laws are often invoked and Christians face imprisonment and threats of Execution.

Asiya Bibi case made it to the headlines, but thousands of cases go unreported.

The endangered Kalash tribe

The Kalash tribe inhabit the Chitral province, a princely state which was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The tribe faces threats of forcible conversions, change of ethnic names of places, pressure to give up their language, script, dressing and convert to Sunni Islam.

These are but a few instances of the plight of Minorities in Pakistan. Reports are written, but never highlighted either in Indian media, or used internationally to pressure Pakistan. Instead a narrative that suits Pakistan of an India ill-treating its Minorities is allowed to flourish.

I conclude with quoting an excerpt from the USCIRF 2018 report’s key findings

In 2017, religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and Shi’a Muslims, continued to face attacks and discrimination from extremist groups and society at large. The government of Pakistan failed to protect these groups adequately, and it perpetrated systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations. Various media outlets promoted intolerance against religious minorities. Abusive enforcement of the country’s strict blasphemy laws resulted in the suppression of rights for non-Muslims, Shi’a Muslims, and Ahmadis. Forced conversions of non-Muslims continued despite the passage of the Hindu Marriage Act, which grants greater rights in family law for Hindu citizens.

Yet ‘statesman’ and architect of ‘Naya Pakistan’ Imran Khan and his ministers get a pass from Indian Media when they Taunt India on Minority treatment.
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