Struggle for Hindu Existence

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Hindus and other non-Muslims in Pakistan are targets of attack on life, property and identity.

Minority Rights Violation in Pakistan

Pakistan has failed to protect religious freedom: U.S. State Department. 

New Delhi Times Bureau | New Delhi | Oct 15, 2015:: The U.S state department said in its annual report on International Religious Freedom report for the year 2014 that Pakistan has failed to protect religious freedom, it said “In Pakistan, the government’s general failure to investigate, arrest or prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses promoted an environment of impunity. This environment fostered further intolerance and acts of violence,”.

“Government policies also failed to protect members of majority and minority religious groups,” said the report released by Secretary of State John Kerry.

“In addition, the persistent use of discriminatory legislation, such as blasphemy laws, including the government’s failure to address false accusations of blasphemy and laws designed to delegitimize the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, meant that minorities were often afraid to profess freely their religious beliefs,” the report said.

The Supreme Court announced a detailed judgment regarding minorities’ rights on June 20, in accordance with which the government created a National Commission for Minorities with representatives of various faith groups, it noted.

However, other recommendations from the judgment have yet to be implemented, such as establishment of a police task force to protect minorities, revision of school curricula to promote religious and social tolerance, and steps to discourage hate speech in social media, the report said.

It said discrimination against Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmadis in admission to higher education institutions persisted. Minority leaders reported their communities faced restrictions in securing admissions into colleges and universities.

Where are Human Rights for Religious Minorities in Pakistan?

462010192169841NDTB | New Delhi | Oct 15, 2015:: In human and subhuman practices- killings, abduction, torture and rape-make their life hell. Minorities in Pakistan can be categorized as ‘ethnic and linguistic’ and ‘religious’. The 1973 Constitution used the term ‘minority’ on several occasions but never defined it. Government views minorities on religious lines only without differentiating along ethnic, racial or linguistic as evidenced in recent national census.

Christians, Hindus, Ahamaddiyas, scheduled castes and others (including Sikhs and Parsis) are officially and constitutionally recognized as religious minorities.  As per 1998 census, religious minorities constituted 3.72 per cent- Christians (1.9%) and Hindus(1.6%) -and predominant 96.28 per cent Muslims. Majority of them profess Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school of thought. Minorities contend official figures to be grossly under-representative of their true numerical strength.

Ishtiaq Ahmed’s book (2011), quoting independent studies, puts minority’s population at nearly 10 per cent; Hindus and Christians making up four million each. Founder Jinnah did not envisage an Islamic state so Pakistan became the homeland for all religious minorities but induction of a series of anti-blasphemy offences in Penal Code providing jail term and later on, the death penalty for criticism of the Prophet changed all that.

Islamization process aggravated with Zia-ul-Haq’s imposition of Hudood Ordinances- an exclusively Islamic code- which played havoc as women and religious minorities were targeted and victimized. Amnesty International urged Benazir Bhuttoto abolish the terrorising law; she could only achieve moderation.

Nawaz Sharif further Islamized Pakistan through the Shariat bill in 1998 for implementing the Sharia; its arbitrary natures, severity of punishment and exploitation by religious extremists attracted enormous international criticism.

Prevailing culture of religious intolerance did not allow Musharraf to modify anti-blasphemy laws substantively.Qisas and Diyat Ordinances became further instruments of discrimination as only the family of the victim, and not the state, could pardon the convicted person, in return for monetary compensation.

Muslim murdering a non-Muslim could pay compensation to the victim’s family and get acquitted, but a non-Muslim, had to face either a prison sentence or the death penalty, deprived of this facility of paying off blood money. Muslims could give evidence against non-Muslims but non-Muslims were barred from giving evidence against a Muslim accused. Recent years have witnessed mounting attacks on the lives,leaders, properties and places of worship resulting in ‘increased social vulnerability’ of non-Muslims.

Terrorists entered the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) in Karachi, separated Christians from Muslims and executed eight Christians by shooting in the head. Seven people were shot dead at a Christian charity in Karachi; hands tied and mouths covered with tape.

Islamists killed 15 Christians at a church in Lahore. Around 3,000 militant Islamists attacked Christians in Sangla Hill in Pakistan destroying Roman Catholicand United Presbyterian churches and Salvation Army .

Christian schools and homes have not been spared, Churches burnt and Bibles desecrated. A lawyer in Multan representing blasphemy accused was murdered. The Cabinet Minister for Minority Affairs –a Christian—was assassinated; elder brotherforced to flee.

The first Christian news anchor and morning show host fled. Hundreds of Christians are among the blasphemy accused and at least 12 in death row. Poor, defenceless and marginalized Christian girls are the weakest; most vulnerable to rape, harassment and threats.Ribqa Masih, a Christian woman was drugged, kidnapped and raped repeatedly under threat of death for conversion to Islam. The father of a minor Christian girl went to rapist’s family to appeal for justice but was only given money to buy painkillers for the haemorrhaging girl! So much for the barbaric practices as state and society concur.

Christians are constantly under threats of attack and intimidation for forcible conversion to Islam. Mass killings and desecration of Churches in Charasadda in the North West Frontier Province are stark reminders.

Mass anti-Christian violence like Gojra riots (2009), Joseph Colony riot (2013) and Gujranwala riot (2013) have psyched them out. Intense persecution has forced thousands of Christians to flee Pakistan. Pew Research Centre in Washington puts Pakistan among the top most persecuting countries for religious minorities. The Human Rights Watch noted government’s unwillingness or inability to provide protection against extremists’ attacks.

Pakistan is a heady cocktail of a barbaric society, primitive laws and acquiescing government, brewing up a highlyvolatile and insecure society for religious minorities. Stuck to the dark period in history, with dated perceptions on women’s liberty and education, Muslim society is starved of educated girls; poaching from advanced Christian religion for educated women with liberal outlook comes easy.

A Mughal emperor once spoke of Kashmir that if there is heaven on earth, it is here, here, and here. Probably same thing can be said about Pakistan. If anywhere on earth there is hell for religious minorities, it is here, here and here.

Hindus in Pakistan are targets of attack on life, property and identity.

Pakistani Hindus hold placards as they shout slogans during a protest against alleged human rights violations in Pakistan, outside the United Nation office in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. A group of Hindus from Sindh province in Pakistan are living in India after leaving their home country a year ago for fear of being persecuted, according to news reports. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Pakistani Hindus hold placards as they shout slogans during a protest against alleged human rights violations in Pakistan, outside the United Nation office in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. A group of Hindus from Sindh province in Pakistan are living in India after leaving their home country a year ago for fear of being persecuted, according to news reports. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

NDTB | New Delhi | Oct 15, 2015:: Pakistan has 95% Muslim population but minorities put theirs at 10%, not 5% as claimed. This overwhelming majority aided by persistent Islamisation of constitution, has reduced minority influence to bare minimum. Article 25 of the constitution declared all citizens as ‘equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law’ but Article 295-C provided death penalty for derogatory remarks by words, visible representation, imputation, innuendo, insinuation or defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet. This blasphemy law, meant to protect Muslims and Islam has actually decimated Hindus. National Commission for justice and Peace reported 1400 blasphemy cases since the 1980s whereas The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) study reported state-sponsored 200 attacks and 1,800 casualties between 2012 and mid-2013. The imposition of exclusively Islamic code on non-Muslims through Hudood Ordinances allows evidence against non-Muslims but bars non-Muslims’ evidence against Muslim accused. Qisasand Diyat Ordinances deepened discrimination as only the family of the victim, and not the state, could pardon the convicted person, in return for monetary compensation. Muslim murdering a non-Muslim could pay blood money to the victim’s family and get acquitted, whereas a non-Muslim, deprived of this facility, faced death or imprisonment.

Since Pakistan’s inception, not a single law has been enacted to protect religious minorities. As of April 2012, Pakistan did not provide a legal system for registration of marriages for Hindus, so Muslims intimidate, kidnap and forcibly marry the already married Hindu women. No legal recourse is available since previous marriage was not recognised! Non registration also deprives them of Computerized National Identity Card. Hindu girls are routinely kidnapped, subjected to sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking and sale. The famous case of Mukhtara Mai stands out as she was raped on the orders of local tribal council of Jirga! European Organisation of Pakistani Minorities in its Violence against Minorities in Pakistan – 2014 Report narrates the harrowing instances of atrocities against Hindus like kidnap and death of a nine-year-old Hindu girl while being raped; abduction, forced conversion and marriage of Hindu school teacher Sapna; abduction of five children aged between 5 to 10 years of a local well known Hindu trader Saith Bhojrajat gunpoint; forcible conversion of minor daughters Jumna and Pooja of a poor toy maker and instances of bodies found missing from their graves. Sanno Amra and Champa, a Hindu couple in Karachi, returned home to find that their three teenage daughters had been taken to a madrasa, forcibly converted to Islam, and denied unsupervised contact with their parents! Abduction and forcible conversions and marriage of married Hindu women are quite common in Sindh province. The pernicious practice of slavery, though abolished from all civilised countries, still exists in Pakistan as numerous reports suggest millions of Hindus being held as ‘bonded labourers’ in slavery-like conditions in rural Pakistan.

Hindu temples have been targeted too frequently. Hanuman temple in Hyderabad was desecrated, idol broken and the temple set on fire. A Hindu temple and a community centre were set ablaze in Larkana, also in Tharparkar and Tando Mohammad Khan. The century old Sri Ratneswar Mahadev Hindu temple in Karachi was under threat. The temple land of Hindu goddess Kali Mata in Hyderabad, with a settlement of several thousand Hindu families living in the compound for decades, faced encroachment threat. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) noted that 720 families of Hindu sanitary workers were forced to vacate a century old settlement in Karachi after repeated incidents of rape, abduction and attacks on houses by drug peddlers known as ‘Slaughter House Quarter’ with the connivance of police and Pakistan Rangers. The houses of worship and properties left behind by the Hindus have been usurped by the Evacuee Trust Property Board as one-million acres of land in Badin, Umerkot and Tharparkar testify. Hindus are forced to pay Jizyah of Rs 25 000 per person per year at Peshawar or FATA.‘Art of Living Yoga Centre’ was set on fire fearing that popular yoga- a Hindu practice- might influence Muslims. Even text books in schools encourage students to kill Hindus whom media projects as opportunists.

Pew Research Centre in Washington puts Pakistan among the top most persecuting countries to religious minorities. The report uses two indices (1) The Government Restrictions Index (GRI) measuring government laws, policies and actions that restrict religious beliefs and practices and (2) The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) measuring acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organisations or groups in society. Pakistan topped the list of 198 countries having the highest level of social hostilities involving religion. USCIRF has designated Pakistan as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC) since 2002 denouncing continuous state tolerance of systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.

Hindus are discriminated against in respect of fundamental rights, political participation, public positions, education, employment, property, food, clothing and housing. Negation of rule of law and democratic governance has resulted in ‘democratic deficit’. Deteriorating conditions have forced Hindus to flee Pakistan at over five thousand per year reducing them from 23% in 1947 to 1.5% now. Discriminatory laws, forced conversions, bombs and shootings have rendered life hell for Hindus in Pakistan.

Courtesy: NDT.

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