“Two Hindu girls kidnapped converted to Islam on the eve of Holi”. “Three minor Hindu girls forced to convert to Islam”. “Abduction and conversion: Hindu girls approach the court for protection”….and such similar headlines hogging the limelight and is a widespread facet in Pakistan. The forced conversions are continuing unabated in Pakistan ever since it’s coming into existence in 1947. The latest in the list is forced conversion of 86 Hindu community people from 20 families in Ameer Shah village in Sindh on June 15, 2019.
The upward trend of forced conversion and marriages
Human Right Commission of Pakistan reported more 1000 cases of forced conversions in 2018 in Sindh Province itself, moreover a great number of such cases going unobserved and unreported even in the present media glare. Lately, there has been a surge in abduction, rape, and marrying of Hindu girls brought the issue back to the fore globally. It appears that forced conversion is a State policy and systematic and organised radicalisation in the country to ensure Islamisation in totality. The Hindu populace stands approximately at 5% as against 23% at the time of partition is the testimony.
Who is responsible
It is the responsibility of the State to protect the rights of its minorities. In spite of signatory of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Child Rights Convention, Pakistan failed to protect exploitation, abuse and basic human rights of the oppressed Hindus and other minorities. Human Right Commission of Pakistan, various NGOs and social activists reported total apathy by Government machinery towards the victims. Law enforcing agencies have shown complete indifference right from reluctance in registering or falsifying the First Information Report, courts not adhering to correct procedures, religious Institutions & Ulemas not verifying age, circumstances in forced conversions. Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) never seen the light of the day in-spite of unanimously passing of the Bill in Sindh Provincial Assembly in 2016.
It is onerous responsibility of the Government to protect the vulnerable minorities against forced conversions and forced marriages. However, neither elected government through democratic process nor Army Rule, ironically imposed for most of the period in the history of Pakistan, could not save the minorities from impairment of the forced conversion. It appears that malaise is deep-rooted and present Government under their supposedly progressive PM Imran Khan has an uphill task in order to endow with social fairness to the pretentious class of the society. Pakistan has to initiate tangible and noticeable measures – be it passing of Sindh Criminal Law and enforce it across the country or reforms of police and judiciary for greater accountability, timely and correct response as per law of the land or upliftment of minorities economically by provisioning of equal rights in education, jobs, and positions in Government hierarchy including adequate representation in State and National Assemblies. Last but not the least, Pakistani so-called elite Awam has to be sensitised that co-existence of various segment of societies remained the culture and tradition prior to partition and should remain so. It would be fatal for Pakistan to close the eyes to this social prejudice and violation of basic human rights of the minorities in ever mounting International pressure and get isolated on another front which, for sure Naya Pakistan can never afford as of now.
21 Jun 19/Friday Written by Fayaz