Sunday, January 23, 2011
In recent years, a number of Hindus in Pakistan have been kidnapped for ransom or for forced conversion to Islam, especially in Sindh province. These incidents are generally ignored by the Pakistani authorities, because the Hindu minority lacks support among government officials as well as in the local society, which is predominantly Muslim.
In addition, such incidents are rarely reported by the leading Pakistani media groups. During the Pakistan floods of August-September 2010, Hindus and Ahmadi Muslims were denied flood relief by Pakistani government officials. The News daily reported that government officials at the Mir Imdad camp, outside the historical Jhirk Town in the Thatta district of Sindh province, denied aid to Hindu children.
The kidnappings of Hindus have become frequent recently in the interior areas of Sindh; according to a report, members of the minority community are now migrating to urban centers and in many cases to India. A media report of mid-October 2010 noted: "Since the beginning of this year, at least eight children of this family have been kidnapped and released in return for a hefty ransom [in interior Sindh]."
In March 2009, 35 Pakistani Hindus from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs) of Pakistan went to India and asked for asylum. Jagdish Sharma, the Hindu community leader who accompanied them to India, said: "In Pakistan, we were living in extreme fear, due to the domination of a strong group of Taliban who are running a parallel government." Also in July 2009, a group of 100 Pakistani Hindus went to India and sought permission to live there.
This migration to India is part of a pattern. In September 2009, an Indian website reported: "In the past four years, some 5,000 Hindus may have crossed over from Pakistan, never to return."
In March 2010, Amarnath Motumal, an advocate and member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said that as many as 20 to 25 girls from the Hindu community in Pakistan are abducted every month and converted forcibly to Islam, adding: "According to estimates, in Karachi alone, a large number of Hindu girls are being kidnapped on a routine basis [and converted to Islam]." Bherulal Balani, a former legislator, reported: "Once the girls are converted, they are then sold to other people or are forced into illegal and immoral activities."
In October 2010, a committee of the Pakistani Senate expressed concern over reports that Hindu girls in the country's Sindh province are being abducted for forced conversion to Islam. At a meeting of the Senate Committee on Minority Affairs, Senator Dr. Khatu Mal Jeewan reported the same.
In a recent article, acclaimed Pakistani lawmaker Marvi Memon, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) party, criticized the failure of the government officials to stop discrimination and violence against Pakistani Hindus. Noting that she has altered her position against death penalty due to continuing violence against Pakistani Hindus, Ms. Memon said: "The tragedy is that as a result of these kidnappings, many Hindu families have migrated to India. After all, it is better to live in another country than in perpetual fear [in your own country, Pakistan]."