Aage Se Right

How long can we shut our eyes to the plight of Pakistani Hindus?

Hindus are being routinely abducted, forcibly converted or socially ostracized across Pakistan. Thousands of them flee to Indian refugee camps, simply to be able to live with some safety.

 |  Aage Se Right  |  7-minute read |   01-04-2019
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Last week, Pakistan's minister of information and broadcasting lost his cool when he read a tweet from the Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, that she had sought a report about the reportedly forcible conversion of two Pakistani Hindu girls after being coerced into marriage with Muslim grooms. 

Probably the international outrage got to Fawad Hussain — and he proceeded to remind Sushma Swaraj that the white part of the flag of his country stands for the minorities in his country. 

However, This twitter spat caught the eye of the world and everybody in Pakistan. A court in Pakistan ordered the recovery of the minor Hindu girls. Following the court order, the girls were rescued and placed under protective custody.

But the recent inquiry that Imran Khan has ordered against the kidnapping and conversion of the Hindu girls is just an eyewash. The problem runs much deeper — it is like a cancer that has struck the Pakistani social fabric, where discrimination and criminal acts against the minority Hindus (especially underage women and little girls) are routine with no hope of justice.

However, the Pakistani government continues to lie to the world that they are sensitive to their minority community. 

pak-hindu_032919065740.jpgHindus, Christians and other minorities are just not safe in a country like Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters)

Last week, Pakistan's cover was blown after as many as 13 cases of kidnapping and forceful conversion of Hindu women were reported. Apart from the cases where Sushma Swaraj sought a report, no action was taken against any other case of kidnapping, coerced marriage to Muslim grooms and thereby, reportedly forced conversion into the Muslim faith. A majority of the girls kidnapped were underage, according to international standards.

You must be wondering why there are so many reports of forced conversions of Hindu girls from Sindh alone. It is because the Hindu population in Pakistan is concentrated in Sindh (see attached table). In areas such as Umerkot, the percentage of Hindu population is near 50%. 

hindu-population_032919055203.jpgCourtesy: Wikipedia

Though they constitute less than 2% of the total population, the Hindu community is growing. Estimates say that the Hindu population is growing at a rate of 147% and there should be around 3.3 million Hindus in Pakistan at present. 

This Hindu population growth in Pakistan should not be seen in isolation as this is in sync with the fact that Pakistan has seen an explosive population growth, so much so that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has said in a recent order that the population explosion of Pakistan should be treated like a "disaster".

But what is unique to the Hindu population in Pakistan is the social ostracisation, kidnappings and forced conversion that have become an every-day affair. 

A research paper by the University of Birmingham on the topic "Forced Conversions & Forced Marriages In Sindh, Pakistan" says, "The Aurat Foundation and the Movement for Solidary and Peace (MSP) estimate that 1000 women and girls a year are abducted, forcibly converted and then married off to their abductors. Abductions and forced conversions is an issue faced by all of the minority religions across Pakistan, but in particular, is the most serious problem facing Hindu and Christian women and girls.... The volunteer group, Responsible for Equality And Liberty, estimate that between 20 to 25 Hindu girls are forcibly converted every month.15 Once kidnapped and forcibly converted they are raped, sold off, become victims of human trafficking or are forced into prostitution."

Remember, the above figures are just from Sindh alone — the actual numbers of kidnapping are much higher and vastly under-reported because Pakistan's police and other forms of law-keeping machinery (like the Maulanas and other Muslim religious heads) don't support the rights and dignity of the Pakistani Hindus.

The torture on Hindu girls reported in the media and criminal reports lodged in different police stations are taking a toll on Pakistan as well, which has been labelled as one of the five worst countries for women in the world. Pakistan ranks 150 out of 153 countries on The Georgetown Institute's Women, Peace and Security index

We tend to get waylaid and overwhelmed by numbers unless we see a human face to this. So, what is the effect on Pakistani Hindu families whose daughters are forcibly kidnapped and married off Muslim grooms and then even sold off in the sex trade? 

Here, watch the fathers narrate the stories of their daughter's kidnapping. (Warning: the video might be distressing for some viewers).

As you must have guessed by now, most of the minority Hindu community are extremely poor and don't have the money or the resources to come to India. They are not only discriminated against but many Hindu minority children are not sent to school in the fear that they might get abducted.

Here is a short documentary about the condition of the Hindu population in Pakistan. These are facts that the federal government of Pakistan routinely tries its best to take off the internet.

You might argue that this discrimination and the proliferation of crime is due to the lack of education and money. So, is it true that the educated, middle-class in Pakistan do not discriminate against Hindus in Pakistan? 

Well, reality says that though the life of the Pakistani Hindu middle-class seems better than their poor counterparts, social ostracisation is part of their daily life. 

The daily social ostracisation among the middle-class and the increasing number of crimes against the Hindu minority is showing its results. 

It is estimated that about 5000 Hindus are leaving Pakistan every year and coming to India as refugees because they are unable to tolerate the persecution.

In fact, the number of Pakistani Hindu camps in Delhi is growing where the Indian government is pulling all strings to provide them basic amenities. These Hindu refugees admit on record that they are not coming to India because they have suddenly grown fond of the country, but their main reason of shifting are the intolerable conditions that successive Pakistani governments have created for their minorities.

Every Hindu in these camps has a horrible story to tell. Every refugee Pakistani Hindu will tell you that they knew that they'd face tough conditions in India, like all other refugees. But they came to India to feel safe. They came to India to protect their lives and they are glad to have escaped alive from Pakistan.

Next time any Pakistani prime minister puts up a post about the 'white part' of their national flag or tries to mislead you with propaganda about just how happy their minority Hindu population is, then please remember this article. When a Pakistani politician puts up a wish during a Hindu festival, please remember what we just told you.

imran-khan_032919065755.jpgNothing has changed in Imran Khan's Naya Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters)

Like the denial of the existence of anti-India terrorists on their soil, Pakistan also denies the daily persecution and the human rights violations that it inflicts on its minorities. 

Their government officials are taught to lie to the world. They lie with impunity.

But repeating a lie ad-nauseam doesn't turn it into truth.

The truth is this — the Pakistani government ministers are liars when they say that their minorities are happy and safe. Nothing has changed in Imran Khan's Naya Pakistan. 

Hindus and Christians are not safe in a bigoted country like Pakistan which simpy forsake forget its purana ways.  

Also Read: Why Imran Khan’s 'naya Pakistan' is no country for Hindu women

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