Pakistan's callousness towards its minorities glaring
In its annual report in April, 2019, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan raised concerns about incidents of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls
Hardly a day passes when Pakistani leaders don’t pass comments on India’s internal matters. They apparently do so for local consumptions in Pakistan, which in turn, help them have their survival smooth in the country’s highly competitive and radicalized political atmosphere. But in that process they forget how abjectly they treat their own fellow citizens, particularly those belonging to minority, inside the country. Take the case of Huma Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl, who was abducted and married off to a Muslim boy named Abdul Jabbar in Pakistan’s Sindh province in October last year.
Her parents-Yonus and Nagheena Masih-have appealed to the international community for help as they fear their daughter will never get a justice in Pakistan. In fact, instead of giving justice to the troubled girl and her desolate parents, Pakistan’s Sindh High Court in its ruling on February 3 said the marriage is valid as per the Sharia law and as long as she has had first menstrual cycle. This ruling came even as the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act forbids marriage involving anyone under 18.
Girl’s parents are now considering to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Still they fear justice will not be delivered to them in time. “We believe the government and the judges are delaying the decision because our girl is 14 years old. They want to wait for her to turn 18 and then close the case,” Nagheena Masih was quoted by Independent Catholic News, a UK-based portal as saying. Yet it is not the lone incident of the callous response of the Pakistani society towards the country’s minority community, facing torture, threat, discrimination and maltreatment at the hands of majority Muslim community members.
When a minor Hindu girl Mehak Kumari recently retracted her previous statement in the court, where she had said she was not abducted and forcefully converted into Islam, a section of radical Islamists and clerics have threatened openly in the media that they will punish her for apostasy. Given the girl’s plight, Rahat Austin, a Pakistan based lawyer, author and activist in his tweet said: “Brave 14 years Hindu, Mehak, (has) been crying in courts that she was forcefully raped and converted but judges (have) been giving her back to her already marred Muslim rapist to keep her. Now, Muslim clerics (are) demanding her beheading for leaving Islam. This is called justice in Pakistan.”
On March 29, 2019, outraged by increasing incidents of abduction and forced conversion of girls from Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities into Islam, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and NGO, Centre for legal Aid Assistance and Settlement held a joint press conference in Lahore Press Club and demanded the government pass a legislation to stop the forced conversion. But Prime Minister Imran Khan who wants to build a ‘Naya Pakistan’ has not ever thought of paying an attention to such demands even though he is aware of ongoing incidents of kidnapping and forced conversion of minority community girls into Islam.
In its annual report in April, 2019, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan raised concerns about incidents of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls, saying around 1,000 such cases were reported in the Southern Sindh province alone in 2018.
Collusion between landed influential politicians, religious elite and independent media is cited as the reason why the process of justice towards members of the minority community has been left stuttered in Pakistan. This view point matches the World Sindhi Congress’s 2015 Report to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In its report, the UK, US and Canada-based advocacy group said 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted into Islam every month in areas like Umerkot, Tharparkar, Sanghar, Ghotki and Jacobabad—all parts of the Thar region of Pakistan.
With passage of every year, Pakistan’s minority community members’ life is turning from bad to worse. As per data provided by Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a total of 776 Muslims, 505 Ahmedis, 229 Christians and 30 Hindus have been accused under various clauses of the contentious blasphemy law, in the year between 1987 and 1918. This exemplifies how the laws are unfairly used to target minority community members in Pakistan. And for this the European Union has held the country and its political elites responsible. Castigating Pakistan for being lax in protecting the rights of its minority people, the European Union Parliament in its report in May 2019 said that biases against the religious minorities in Pakistan is manifest in various forms of targeted violence, mass murder, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rapes, forced conversion to Islam.”
Yet Pakistani leadership don’t feel shame in pointing an accusing finger against India, the country which follows the tenet of ‘Sarb Dharm Sambhav’ and religious tolerance for its nationals, irrespective of their faith and creed.