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Forced Conversion: A Norm in Pakistan

 

The forced conversion of Hindu girls into Islam in Pakistan is continuing unabated, in fact, there is sharp increase in such cases in last six months. In a recent dreadful act of abduction of a Hindu girl named Chandri Kolhi from Noukat, Mirpur khas and forcibly married to Allah Dino has been reported. Not a very long ago the killing of Namrita Chandani, a medical student hit the headlines of the media. The family members have outrightly rejected the Police “Suicide Theory” and alleged being a murder and case of forced conversion.

In another incident, a school run by a Hindu Principal was ransacked following an allegation of blasphemy against him. This was followed by vandalising of Hindu temples and destruction of Hindu’s shops and properties by the Muslims rioters. However, later it emerged that the principal had given shelter to a minor Hindu girl who was being forcefully converted to Islam and married off to a much older person on behest of Mian Mithoo, an influential radical Islamist.

Also a 15-year-old Christian girl was allegedly forced to convert to Islam by her teacher in Pakistan’s Punjab province. According to a complaint filed by the girl’s father Mukhtar Masih at a police station, Faiza was taken to a seminary in the Sheikhupura city, some 50 km from Lahore, by her school principal Saleema Bibi, who forced her to embrace Islam.

And who can forget (in famous) case of Reena and Ravina Meghwar sisters who on the eve of Holi, were disappeared from their home in Daharki town in Ghotki district of Sindh province. Both the sisters were forcefully converted to Islam and married off to older Muslim men.

Earlier, Jagjit Kaur, a Sikh girl was abducted and forcibly converted to Islam in Nankana Sahib which had caused a huge uproar. In another horrific incident, a 13-year-old Pooja Sotahar Kumari, daughter of Fatan Rathore, resident of village Bakhsho Laghari in Hyderabad district’s Hosri Taluka, was kidnapped, forcefully converted and subsequently married off to a man identified as Syed Irshad Shah.

The role of Madrassas

The role of madrassas in Pakistan has always been under the lens for its active role in forced conversion. Madrassas plays the pivotal role for these activities in Pakistan. Today condition of minorities in Pakistan is not only the result of state policies to alienate community but also the mind game of religious extremists who govern these madrassas.

‘Aurat Foundation’ report stated that the conversions mainly take place in Thar region and particularly in districts of Umerkot, Tharparkar, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, Ghotki, and Jacobabad. The report also emphasized that financial and economic conditions are primary reasons for conversions. Decrease in minority population depicts clear picture. The problem for minorities is exaggerated due to extremist religious groups, weak local courts, and insensitive administration. Sources in these regions say that Dargah Pir Bharchundi Sharif and Dargah Pir Sarhandi are the symbols of terror and fear for locals.

Harris Khalique, writer and Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan emphasized that madrassas are provided with institutional backing because these kinds of incidents cannot take place in isolation. He reiterates that responsibility of such incidents lies with the state.

Pending Legislation

The Muslim groups have opposed the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) 2015 which was unanimously passed by Sindh assembly and finally legislation could not become law and it will never. This further reiterates that Muslim Extremist-fundamentalists still govern the social issues of Pakistan in collusion with military leadership and puppet government in true sense.

At last, root of forced conversions can be traced to the Anti-Hindu sentiment of Extremists and leadership. Political leadership has never been in position of taking any worthwhile descision. 

Viewpoint

 Forced religious conversions are norm in Pakistan and also frequencies of such events have increased manifold in recent past. The forceful conversion programmes have often been unleashed against the minorities especially Christians, Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan with utmost brutality. However, Pakistan’s various madrassas and extremist religious organizations, involved in such heinous crime always deny their role in ‘forceful’ conversion by linking such incidents to factors like belief in Islam, financial independence and also blame customs and religions other than Islam.

Pakistan failed to prevent child marriage. In case of conversion of minor girls, the primary failure is in implementation of law against child marriage. A Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf lawmaker said that authorities are not keen to resolve and initiate action on these issues fearing backlash from powerful religious groups.

A report by the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan in collaboration with Aurat foundation disclosed that At least 2,000 girls of Hindu, Sikh, Christian and other minority community are converted to Islam every year.

The fact remains that Sindh, a home to nearly 90% Pakistan’s Hindu population and has literacy rate of only 45%. The overall population of minorities in Pakistan has decreased from 23% to 1.5% at present which speaks itself for the rampant conversion of minorities in Pakistan.

28 Oct 2019/Monday                                    Written by: Azeema

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