Millennium Post

Plight of Hindus in Pakistan

The state of minorities in Pakistan is revealed by the horrible tales told by Pakistani Hindu pilgrims visiting India at present. They are subject to all manner of persecutions and oppression, of which the latest instance that has caught the public eye is that of a 14-year-old Hindu girl, Manisha Kumari, who was kidnapped from Jacobabad in Sindh in early August, forcibly converted to Islam, raped and married to a Muslim against her will. This kind of atrocious gender outrage, utterly condemnable, is not the only instance of its kind, with many girls of this particular minority community being subject to this particular form of victimisation. In fact, the community as a whole is subject to all kind of outrages that include kidnappings for ransom, burglaries, armed robberies, forced conversions, murders and the destruction of temples. The police is apathetic or actively connives while gangs extort protection money. The community lives in fear,  too frightened to move about freely or do the things taken for granted in free and civilised communities. These outrages are, in fact, not a recent phenomenon but have been going on for several years, a reason for the diminished numbers of this community in Pakistan. Despite minorities being given equal rights by the latest version of Pakistan’s constitution, state protection is negligible as is the democratic representation of this community in the country’s politics. In fact, the Pakistani state has encouraged hatred between communities, as, for example, through its education system where the state-issued textbooks are full of hate speech directed at this community and they are caricatured badly. The Islamisation of Pakistan has not helped matters nor has its founding ideology, which centres around a religious identity. This has resulted in the maltreatment of Hindus, causing their exodus from Pakistan, with many preferring to migrate rather than put up with a second-class status.

It is in this context that India must formulate a response. It must remind Pakistan of its obligations under its constitution to minorities as well as under international law as well as in accordance with the basic norms of human rights and decency. Pakistan must be encouraged to let go those who do not wish to stay in it just as India allows people to migrate to Pakistan. On its part, India, which harbours millions of illegal immigrants, must not hesitate to take a compassionate view  and must be willing to allow those who wish to migrate legally to escape persecution, to do so. It must not be niggardly but must be willing to offer asylum to the oppressed. 
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