Pakistan protested to India when the alleged destroyers of the 2007 Samjhauta Express train — which killed 42 Pakistanis going home after visiting India — were allowed to walk by a court in New Delhi. And India has protested to Pakistan about the abduction of two Hindu girls in Sindh, Pakistan, and their forced conversion followed by marriage to already-married Muslim boys.
A minority of Indians and Pakistanis don’t like what their states are doing to their minority communities. In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of the Ghotki, Sindh, kidnappings but will come up against a wall of past practice.
Two girls from the Hindu community, Reena, aged 14, and Raveena, aged 16, their parents say, were abducted and taken away. The police — mostly semi-literate and “mainstream Islamic” — reported that the girls had converted before marriage and now there was nothing to be done under the law. Appearing on TV, the two girls actually asserted that they converted because they loved Islam.
Hindus in Pakistan, like the Muslims in India, are under pressure. Concentrated in Sindh and a minuscule part of the country’s total population, they have been under pressure from the “conversion-crazy” clerics who gang up with criminals to provide brides for good-for-nothing Muslim boys whom no Muslim girl would marry.
Zohra Yusuf who served as Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) from 2011 to 2017, writes: “Hindus, concentrated mostly in Sindh, carry the burden of historical prejudice as well as association with India. According to their representatives, the greatest issue of concern to the community is that of forced conversions; according to their estimates, about a 1,000 Hindus are converted to Islam every year and a majority among them are young women. In most cases, the girls are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and then married to Muslim men.”
The Hindu community — which is more indigenous to Sindh than Muslims — also suffers from economic exploitation. Many of those employed as agricultural labour in Sindh are men and women from the low-caste Bheel and Kohli communities. They also form the bulk of the bonded labour in Sindh, exploited by landowners who use the excuse of loans to enslave them. Violence against women is fairly common as landowners treat their labourers as personal property.
Naresh Kumar, a Hindu leader from Sindh and a member of the ruling party, has appealed for normalcy before the latest case is decided. He has alleged that big Sindhi landlords — like Mian Mitthoo of Ghotki — are involved in the dirty business and has demanded justice. Mian Mitthoo lost his PPP MNA’s ticket after the much publicised conversion of Rinkle Kumari in 2013. He is the patron of the shrine of Bharchundi Sharif in Ghotki where the latest victims were also converted.
Christians too have come under pressure from the trend of “Islamisation” through abductions. Last month, a Christian named Naveed Iqbal — Christian no longer use the giveaway “masih” after their names to avoid being maltreated — complained from Islamabad that his wife, mother of three children, was kidnapped by a local bully, Khalid Satti, whom the police defend because he has produced a nikahnama (certificate of marriage) indicating that Iqbal’s Christian wife had converted and married a Muslim.
The most horrible religious law in Pakistan is that of conversion to Islam of a non-Muslim wife. The moment she pronounces the kalima she becomes haram (prohibited) on her non-Muslim husband; and she doesn’t have to take a divorce before marrying again. On the other hand, this freedom of conversion is not allowed to Muslims. A Muslim leaving Islam is “murtid” (apostate) and has to be put to death. Pakistan signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 ensuring “religious freedom” but opted out of the “conversion” right for Muslims after it became more and more infested with religious extremism. (An idiotic Muslim admirer went up to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and asked her to convert to Islam. He knew he couldn’t have it the other way around. Ardern had shown her humanity at a time when Muslims are bereft of it, and she did it because she was not a Muslim.)
The deep state insists that extremist-terrorist organisations like Jaish should be “normalised” through “mainstreaming”, little realising that the population of Pakistan has been “normalised” into extremism through a more sinister “mainstreaming” by the terrorists and their madrasas. Khalid Hameed, head of the English Department at Government Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur in Punjab, was stabbed to death <https://www.dawn.com/news/1470814> by his student who accused him of promoting un-Islamic activities through a mixed (boys and girls) welcome function.
Religion in Pakistan and India has gone berserk. Both have to realise this and take steps to lower the level of the heat produced against their minority communities. One good step agreed to by both countries was the Kartarpur Corridor which will allow Sikh yatris to enter Pakistan and visit the last abode of their great seer, Guru Nanak Dev. Imran Khan has also agreed to the Sharada Peeth Corridor allowing Hindus in India to visit the great Hindu shrine located in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The writer is consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan
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