[Reader-list] Hindu-Sikh Minorities in Pakistan: The Vanishing Communities

Pawan Durani pawan.durani at gmail.com
Mon Mar 22 11:10:10 IST 2010

"In a recent investigative report it is described how young girls, as
young as 12 or 13, have been kidnapped in Sind, converted to Islam,
and forcibly married to Muslim boys. “Kidnapping Hindu girls like this
has become a normal practice. The girls are then forced to sign
stamped papers stating that they’ve become Muslims,” said Laljee
Menghwar, a member of Karachi’s Hindu Panchayat (council of village
leaders). At least twenty nine similar abduction cases have taken
place in Karachi alone, and six in the Jacobabad and Larkana

Source : http://frontierindia.net/wa/hindu-sikh-minorities-in-pakistan-the-vanishing-communities/632/

By Maloy Krishna Dhar | March 19th, 2010 | Category: Latest, Opinion
and Editorials |

I was inspired to write this essay by a Pakistani journalist friend.
Later, during a lecture tour in South East Asian countries, where
Indian and Chinese origin minorities are also discriminated I noticed
that the minorities are palpably anguished. The latest incidents of
organized attacks by Bengali Muslims on hill dwelling Chakma tribals
in Khagrachari areas firmed up my decision to chronicle a preliminary
account of the conditions of the non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan. I
had earlier written a piece on the plight of the Pakistani Christians.
I have not touched upon the plight of the Shia and Ahmadiya
(non-Muslim) communities in Pakistan, which require international
attention. Not a single Indian Muslim religious seminary has so far
condemned Pakistan for inhuman treatment of the Shia and Ahmadiya

I am indebted to a member of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission and
several young Pakistani writers who have boldly portrayed the pitiable
condition of the minorities in Pakistan. Their voices are drowned in
wilderness. The normal civil society members are also ashamed of these
developments. However, I do not want to name them fearing visitations
by the ISI goons.

Jinnah had said in his speech to the new nation created, called
Pakistan, on August 17, 1947 to assure that his fiefdom, for which he
fought relentlessly and even organized the Great Direct Action Pogrom
of Calcutta in August 1946, to assure the national minorities, after 3
millions were killed in communal riots and several million escaped to
the safety of Hindustan: “You are free; free to go to your temples,
you are free to go to your mosques, or to any other place of worship
in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or
creed-that has nothing to do with the business of the State…We are
starting with this fundamental principles that we are all citizens and
equal citizens of our State.”

People conversant with Jinnah’s rise as a rabid communal Muslim leader
(Jaswant Singh’s white washing aside) know that Jinnah Kathiawadi
lived by deceit and died in neglect (recall his Quetta visit,
breakdown of his car on way to Karachi and apathetic attitude of the
people in power). He was not even a practicing Muslim (a Shia), but
pleaded fanatic Muslim causes. He never tried to rescue Muslim
politics from the clutches of the maulanas. He was the person who
boycotted the 1937 interim governments in the Central Legislative
Assembly and Congress led provinces. He fabricated or organized the
fabrication of charges against Congress’ ruthless suppression of the
Muslims. One after another memorandum was submitted to the Governor
General; all bundles of lies. The grand finale of Jinnah’s bunches of
lies and prevarication included Calcutta pogrom in collaboration with
Suhrawardy government, deceitful refusal to sign the Mountbatten Plan
for partition, backing out from original agreement that Mountbatten
would be the common Governor General for India and Pakistan and
finally throwing a grand inaugural lunch on 16th August, a day of
Ramadan (later shifted to dinner).

With such track record of prevarication, fabrication and falsehood
Jinnah’s 17th August 1947 speech assuring the minority was then and
even now treated as crocodile’s tears. If he were a democrat he would
have not chosen the machetes to kill. He could not stop killing of the
Hindu and other minorities in Pakistan even after he assumed the gaddi
of the Governor General in true Hollywood style. Since Jinnah the
Hindu minorities have continued to suffer in Pakistan and now they
have become an endangered community. Those interested may read Jinnah
of Pakistan by Stanley Wolpert and Mountbatten’s Report on the Last
Viceroyalty, edited by Lionel Carter.

For which Pakistan Jinnah had struggled? His idea of Pakistan was
limited to the vision of Dr. Iqbal-whole of Punjab, Sind, Balochistan,
NWFP, FATA areas and Kashmir. He had no plan for Bengal and Assam and
other Muslim majority areas in India. Later the Bangistan theory of
Chaudhry Rahmat Ali propelled the Pakistan protagonists to amalgamate
Bengal and Assam and create the eastern wing of Pakistan.

However, it must be said to the credit of Jinnah that in the absence
of Dr. Iqbal and any other Muslim poet he could trust, he had
commissioned a Hindu to write the original national anthem of
Pakistan. India and Pakistan have another anomalous situation in
common. Iqbal, the progenitor of Pakistan, had composed the national
song Sare Jahan se Accha—. It is still used as one of the national
songs. Jinnah, on the other hand had summoned Jagannath Azad, son of
Lahore-based poet Tilok Chand Mahroom, just three days before the
creation of Pakistan, to write the country’s first national anthem. It
had stirred up a debate in that country. It is claimed that Jinnah
sowed the seed of secularism by inviting Jagannath Azad to write the
national anthem. However, Pakistan’s first national anthem composed by
a Hindu was discarded by Pakistan in 1950. What a great disrespect to
the father of the nation! Some leading Pakistani thinkers correctly
said that Pakistan exists on the venom of anti-Hindu elixir.

Demographic distribution of Hindus in Pakistan (source Wikipedia)

At the time of Partition in 1947, the Hindu population of Pakistan was
estimated at approximately a quarter of the total population. For
example, the population of Karachi, Pakistan in 1947 was 450,000, of
which 51% was Hindu, and 42% was Muslim. By 1951, Karachi’s population
had increased to 1.137 million because of the influx of 600,000 Muslim
refugees from India. In 1951, the Muslim population of Karachi was 96%
and the Hindu population was 2%. In 1998, the Hindu population in all
of Pakistan was 1.6%, and the most recent census would certainly be
expected to demonstrate consistent dwindling demographic trends and
further diminution of Hindu population.

According to certain official estimates NWFP has slightly over 4,924
Hindus, whereas in FATA area total known Hindu population is 1,921.
After the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan and military operations
hundreds of Hindus had escaped under dual pressure-demand of Jizya, a
Sharia tax by the Taliban and army harassment.

Pakistan’s Constitution, prima facie, provides for freedom of
religion. In practice, however, the government imposes limits on this
freedom by using several subterfuges. Since Pakistan proclaimed itself
an Islamic republic at the time of independence, Islam has become a
core element of the national ideology. Since the struggle for separate
homeland for the Muslims was seemingly waged against the Hindus and
not the British Pakistan’s political soul is filled with hatred
against the Hindus. Thus, religious freedom is subject to law, public
order, and morality as decided by the reigning government. Actions or
speech deemed derogatory to Islam or to its Prophet are not protected.
In addition, the Constitution requires that laws must be consistent
with Islam and imposes some elements of Quranic law on both Muslims
and religious minorities. This observation has been supported even by
the U.S. State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom
report of 2004. After spate of riots against the Pakistani Christians
the IRF had expressed similar views.

Government regulations and laws shaped by Islamic Sharia injunctions
discriminate against the Hindu minority as well as other minorities in
Pakistan. Section 295-C of the Pakistan penal code mandates the death
sentence for blasphemy against the Prophet or desecration of the
Koran. Dozens of blasphemy cases are pending in the courts, and the
accused spend long periods in jails under brutal conditions once the
accusation has been made, although most such allegations of
desecration are the result of personal grudges. On March 24, 2005,
Pakistan restored the discriminatory practice of mandating the mention
of religious identity of individuals in all new passports. The
Pakistan federal cabinet, with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in chair,
had directed the Ministry of Interior to reintroduce the rule after
its repeal under the Zafaraullah Khan Jamali government. The move was
seen as a concession to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a coalition
of hard-line religious parties that supported Pakistan’s former
President General Pervez Musharraf.

The rights of minorities continue to erode at an alarming pace in
Pakistan. I.A. Rehman, Director of the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan, associates this erosion with the continued Islamization of
Pakistan that President General Zia-ul-Haq initiated in the 1980s.
Upon Pakistan’s declaration as an Islamic republic, the rights of
religious minorities, particularly Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadiyas,
diminished dramatically. These minorities live under the fear of
threats to their lives and property, desecration of their places of
worship, and the Blasphemy Act that carries a penalty of death.
Nuzzhat Shirin of the Aurat Foundation adds, “It’s Muslims winning by
intimidation. It’s Muslims overcoming a culture by threatening it, by
abducting young girls so that an entire community moves out or
succumbs to the Muslim murderers.”

There are several instances of attacks against the Shias by the
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipha Sahaba, two hardcore Sunni militant
outfits. “Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale
riots against the Ahmadiya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an
eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a
definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all
Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim.
No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our
so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the
beauty and generosity of Islam.” Sultan Shahin, Editor, New age Islam.

Violence against women in general continues throughout the world, but
more so in Pakistan, particularly against Hindu women. Violence
against women is rampant in the forms of rape, honor killings, and
domestic abuse. In Pakistan, a woman is raped every two hours on
average, and at least ten women a day die in honor killings. Moreover,
Pakistan’s existing Hudood Ordinance is used to imprison thousands of
women who report rapes. The Hudood Ordinances are a set of laws that
were introduced by Presidential decree in 1979 under the then
President General Zia Ul Haq. These laws were intended “to bring in
conformity with the injunctions of Islam” certain aspects of the
criminal justice system and make certain offences punishable by hadd,
which is defined as “punishment ordained by the Holy Quran or Sunnah.”

The quotations are from the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood)
Ordinance, 1979, Ordinance No. VII of 1979, 9 February 1979, preamble
and sec. 2(b), respectively. Hereinafter: Zina Ordinance. . The laws
introduced under the Hudood Ordinances cover the offences of Zina
(various forms of unlawful sexual intercourse) Qazf (wrongful
accusation of Zina crimes), and offences Against Property and
Prohibition. An offence of Zina occurs, under the Ordinance, whenever
“a man and a woman… willfully have sexual intercourse without being
validly married to each other.” Section 4 of the Zina Ordinance.
Offences of rape are called Zina bil Jabr (literally meaning ‘forced
adultery’ in the Arabic original) as they have occurred without the
consent of the victim. Significantly, however, the Zina Ordinance
excludes marital rape from the definition of that offence.

According to the Ordinance, a rape victim must present four male
witnesses to the crime in order to prove the rape occurred. If the
victim is unable to do so, she is at risk for being whipped for
adultery because she has acknowledged illicit sex, which is banned in
Islam. Despite repeated calls by women’s rights and human rights
groups for the reform and repeal of the Hudood Ordinance, the Pakistan
government has yet to take action. Readers may have not forgotten the
famous case of Mukhtar Mai that had created international indignation.
Women, Muslim or Hindu, can expect very little from the majority
sections of people in a country that still lives in the barbaric
Middle Ages.

Hindus continue to be the target of kidnappings, rape, and
intimidation in Pakistan. There are reports of desecration and
destruction of Hindu temples and lands, theft and looting of Hindu
property, discrimination, abuse, and abduction of Hindu females.
Unfortunately, few reports about specific and targeted human rights
abuses against Hindus are available, not only due to the continued
decreasing population of Hindus in Pakistan, but also because reports
of such attacks are either poorly covered in the local media or
completely ignored. In most cases police do not register cases
reported by Hindu victims.

A worrisome trend in Pakistan, particularly in the Sind province, is
that of Muslims kidnapping Hindu girls and forcing them to convert to
Islam. One of the most egregious cases of intimidation and kidnapping
of young Hindu women occurred in September 2005. On September 14,
Hindu parents alleged that four men abducted their daughter in Sind,
and forced her to marry one of the accused and convert to Islam. The
authorities arrested two of the abductors, but the court dismissed the
case when the girl was forced to provide a legal statement that she
willfully married and converted. Gayan Chand Singh, than a legislator
in Pakistan’s Parliament, said that the kidnapping should be
categorized as rape and should be registered as such an offense for
the abductors.

In a similar case, Sapna Giyanchand was taken to a shrine in the
Shikarpur District by Shamsuddin Dasti, a Muslim married man and
father of two children. The custodian of the shrine, Maulvi Abdul Aziz
converted Sapna to Islam, changed her name to Mehek, and married her
to Dasti. When Sapna’s case was presented in court, Muslim extremists
deluged her with rose petals and chanted religious verses. Sapna,
terrified by the setting, could not manage to speak to her parents,
who were also present in court. Aziz, also in attendance, is claimed
to have said, “How can a Muslim girl live and maintain contact with
kafirs; non-believers of Islam?”

In a recent investigative report it is described how young girls, as
young as 12 or 13, have been kidnapped in Sind, converted to Islam,
and forcibly married to Muslim boys. “Kidnapping Hindu girls like this
has become a normal practice. The girls are then forced to sign
stamped papers stating that they’ve become Muslims,” said Laljee
Menghwar, a member of Karachi’s Hindu Panchayat (council of village
leaders). At least twenty nine similar abduction cases have taken
place in Karachi alone, and six in the Jacobabad and Larkana
districts. Wasim Shahzad, the Minister of State for Interior, had
upset legislators in the National Assembly when he was quoted by the
state-run APP news agency as saying, “These incidents are taking place
to force the Hindus to leave Pakistan where they have been living for
the past 5,000 years.”

In a shocking incident, it was reported that three young Hindu girls
had suddenly converted to Islam. The three girls, Reena (21), Usha
(19) and Rima (17) – daughters of Sanno Amra and Champa, a Hindu
couple living in the Punjab Colony section of Karachi, Pakistan – went
missing on October 18, 2005. According to a widely circulated report
in the Pakistan newspaper Dawn, entitled “Conversion losses,” the
London based Pakistani commentator, Irfan Hussain, described the shock
experienced by Sanno Amra and Champa when they returned home after
work on October 18, 2005 to discover their three daughters had
unexpectedly disappeared. Only after desperate queries to the police,
the parents received affidavits stating the daughters’ conversions to
Islam. Private visits with their daughters, free from chaperones and
even police officers that have supervised their only interactions thus
far, have been consistently denied. After their disappearance from
home, the girls have been living at a madrassa (Islamic seminary) in
the vicinity of their home and may potentially be denied the freedom
to return home.

Earlier in 2005, Shazia Khalid, a doctor, reported that she was
gang-raped in a government natural gas plant. Instead of providing her
with medical treatment, officials drugged her into unconsciousness for
three days and then transported her to a psychiatric hospital to
prevent her from reporting the rape. Due to her persistence of
reporting the rape, Khalid was placed under house arrest in Karachi.
The police insinuated that the presence of cash in her house meant
that she was working as a prostitute. Although her husband has stood
by her, his grandfather was quoted as saying that Dr. Shazi disgraced
the family and should be killed.

Although violence against women transcends their religion, it is
disproportionately focused on Hindu women in Pakistan. In May 2005, a
group of middle-class Pakistani women held a demonstration for equal
rights in Lahore. In response, the police beat them and took them to
police stations. In particular, they targeted Asma Jahangir, a U.N.
special rapporteur, who was also the head of the Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan. Ms. Jahangir said an intelligence official
close to General Musharraf told the police to “teach the (expletive) a
lesson (and) strip her in public.” The police tore her shirt off and
tried to remove her trouser. That was General Musharraf, the Kargil
invader and soldier of fortune in a military dominated country.

Between 2003 and 2009 about 100 cases of kidnapping of Hindu women
were reported from Punjab. Besides a temple in Lahore two other
temples in Multan and Gujranwala were desecrated. According to
estimates over 900 acres of Hindu land were forcibly occupied in
Sialkot, Lahore, Multan, Zhang etc places. Hindu students studying in
government schools are made to read Quran and offer namaj.

I have personal respect for the liberation struggle of the Baloch
people and had written two essays in this portal. However, in
Balochistan there are about 36, 686 Hindus. There are several
instances of Hindu traders being kidnapped and released after hefty
ransom. They are pressed both by the rebellious Baloch elements and
the Pakistan army. The police and armed forces suspect that the Hindus
are used as conduit by the Indian Intelligence agencies. Only in 2009
five Hindu traders were kidnapped from Quetta for ransom. Only three
lucky traders returned; the two others could not pay in cash, but paid
with life. Minorities, particularly Hindus and Ahmadiyas, continue to
face a wave of violations in Balochistan, the area where Pakistan
conducted its nuclear tests on the orders of President Musharraf in
October 1999. The native Balochis experience a severely degraded
status since the occupation. Although the exact number is unknown,
more than 5,000 Hindus were forced to escape from the unrest in
Balochistan and enter Sind in 2005. Militant Muslim groups have
desecrated Hindu temples, set their homes on fire, and destroyed Hindu
shops and property. Here too, Hindu females, particularly school
students, are forcibly converted to Islam.

On March 21, 2005, sixty civilians were killed and one hundred and
fifty were injured in Dera Bugti, Balochistan when Pakistan’s Frontier
Corps attacked the town with “artillery shelling, rockets, and
indiscriminate machine gun fire.” Among those killed were innocent
Hindu women and children as well as dozens of Bugti tribesmen

The famous Hindu temple town of Hinglaj, in a narrow valley of Hingol
river is however, respected by the Baloch political leaders. In 2008
Pakistan government had urged the Baloch provincial agency to confirm
a resolution for construction of a damn on Hingol River. Balochistan’s
Irrigation and Power Minister Sardar Mohammad Aslam Bizenjo and other
provincial ministers moved a resolution on the floor of the assembly
over the weekend that categorically objected to the dam being
constructed near the historical Hinglaj Mata Temple, where an annual
festival is held every April. The Baloch Assembly resolution warned
that if the dam was constructed, the temple could go under water
sooner than later, and this would hurt the sentiments of all Hindus.
It requested the federal government to have the dam constructed
elsewhere. Taking into consideration the plight of the Hindus in Sind
and Punjab it can be said that Balochi Hindus generally enjoy trust of
the original Baloch tribes; but they are under pressure from Punjabi

Pakistan’s education system is constructed in such ways that Hindu,
Sikh and Christian students are automatically discriminated. Extracts,
translated from Urdu to English, from the government-sponsored
textbooks approved by the National Curriculum Wing of the Federal
Ministry of Education demonstrate the derogatory and inflammatory
portrayal of Hinduism to the youth of Pakistan:

Grade IV: “The religion of Hindus did not teach them good things, and
the Hindus did not respect women.”
Grade V:  “The Hindu has always been an enemy of Islam.”
Grade VI: “The Hindu setup was based on injustice and cruelty.”
Grade VII: “Hindus always desired to crush the Muslims as a nation and
several attempts were made by the Hindus to erase Muslim culture and
Grade VIII: “Before Islam people lived in untold misery all over the world.”
Grade X: “Islam gives a message of peace and brotherhood…There is no
such concept in Hinduism.”

Minority hatred and persecution is built in the Pakistani system.
Pakistan’s Constitution at face value guarantees fundamental human
rights and equality in front of the law to its citizens. However,
Article 19 of the Constitution states, “Every citizen shall have the
right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom
of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in
the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or
defense of Pakistan,” thus securing the supremacy of Islam in the
country.  Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Article 20 which
states, “Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and
propagate his religion; and every religious denomination and every
sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage
its religious institutions.”  Unfortunately, Hindus, Sikhs,
Christians, and the Ahmadiyas continue to be persecuted in Pakistan
today despite the assurance provided by the Constitution.  Temples are
desecrated, deities are destroyed, and they risk persecution,
particularly because of the Blasphemy Act.

Article 25 of the Constitution maintains, “All citizens are equal
before law and are entitled to equal protection of law…There shall be
no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.”  Rape, honor killings,
and domestic abuse are common types of violence that the women of
Pakistan face.  Despite the constitutional guarantee of equal
protection, these women are left to fend for themselves, as the
Pakistani laws do not provide adequate protection.  They continue to
face a myriad of inequalities in the judicial system, and will
continue to do so, as long as the Hudood Ordinance is not repealed.
Article 35 mandates, “The State shall protect the marriage, the
family, the mother and the child.”  Article 36 states, “The State
shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities,
including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial
services.”  In reality, however, neither families nor minorities are
being protected by Pakistan today as kidnappings or forced conversions
of Hindu girls continue to occur without convictions of the felons.
Curiously, Pakistan has taken no action toward ratifying or signing
the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR),
although it did ratify the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on September 19, 1966.

However, only in rural and semi urban Sind Hindus have some visible
presence, 12, 3821. As shown on the map the Hindus are more
concentrated in Hyderabad and areas bordering India (notice green
colour in the map). Besides Soda Rajput, most of the Hindus are
classified as “Low Caste”, engaged in scavenging work, night soil
carrying job and other menial works. Except for the appointment of
Bhagwan Das as the Chief Justice of Pakistan (took oath on Quran) no
other Hindu has so far succeeded in climbing up the ladder in the
Pakistani armed force, civil services and other spheres of national
activities. We propose to discuss several atrocious attacks on the
Hindu minority in Pakistan in later chapters of this essay.

Though numerically insignificant the Hindus of Pakistan have organized
a few representative bodies to espouse their welfare and other causes
with the provincial and federal governments:

* Pakistan Balmiki Sabha

* Pakistan Hindu Council

* Pakistan Hindu Foundation (PHF)

* Pakistan Hindu Panchayat

* Pakistan Hindu Party (PHP)

* Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association

* Pakistan Minority Welfare Council (PMWC)

* Walmik Gur Mukh Sabha

Pakistan Hindu Panchayat has branches in all the provinces important
towns. They hold annual conferences and represent with the provincial
Nazims (district collectors), police officials and political leaders.
Pakistan Minority Welfare Council is also a broad representative body
which works in close liaison with the Human Rights activists in

” In a latest development Ramesh Lal, a PPP MNA and other Hindu MNAs
walked out of the Pakistan National Assembly in protest against highly
derogatory and biased comments by a Pakistani High Court judge.
“Chafing at a Lahore high court judge’s comment that Hindus were
financing terror attacks in that country, nine Hindu members of
Pakistan’s national assembly staged a walkout in protest on Wednesday.

“The sentiments of four million Pakistani Hindus are hurt by Justice
Khwaja Sharif’s uncalled for remarks,” said Pakistan People’s Party
lawmaker Ramesh Lal. He was then joined by other Hindu lawmakers who
then walked out. Members of the Awami National Party, too, joined in.
Their protest was described as the first in Pakistan’s national
assembly against the judiciary. Justice Sharif had made the remark
while hearing a petition on barring the deportation of Afghan Taliban
leaders on Monday.
The apparent trigger for the comment was a lawyer’s observation that a
US security firm was responsible for the blasts in Pakistan, including
the recent ones in Lahore. Justice Sharif rebutted him saying,
“Muslims, and not Hindus, are involved in terror acts in Pakistan.
Hindus might be the financiers of such attacks.”

As a member of ruling PPP, Ramesh Lal called for intervention from
president Asif Ali Zardari and prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani,
saying Justice Sharif’s questioning the patriotism of Pakistani Hindus
had left the latter hurt and angry. He also asked Supreme Court chief
justice Iftikhar Chaudhary to take suo motu note of the “highly
objectionable” remark. The protesters later returned to the assembly
after some persuasion.” As reported in Times of India on March 18.

On the other hand, the Sikhs are a microscopic community-slightly more
than 20,000. They live mostly in Peshawar, Lahore, Nankana Sahib and a
few other places of worship. Pakistan’s population is more than 96%
Muslims; Hindus 1.6%, Christians 1.6 % and rest are Sikhs,
Zoroastrians, and Buddhists etc. There is one traffic inspector from
the Sikh community in Punjab, one army officer, one singer, a poetess
and a MLA in the province of Punjab (PPP). After Taliban rampage in
Afghanistan a few hundred Sikhs migrated to Pakistan and settled with
their relatives in FATA, NWFP and Lahore areas.

They were again uprooted from FATA area when Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
of Baitullah Mehsud demanded rupees 20 crores (200 million) as Jizya.
About 5 Sikhs were taken to custody and they were released after
paying rupees 20 lakhs (2 million). Most of the uprooted Sikhs are
still living in camps and have not gone back to FATA locations.

Like the Hindus, the Sikhs have also been persecuted. The Sikh temple
at Naulakha Bazar in Lahore was taken over by the Muslims in August
2007. The Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB) had recently
taken over lands worth millions of rupees which belonged to Samadh
Bhai Man Singh and Gurdwara Deh.

Recent kidnapping of the Sikhs in NWPF area, beheading of two and
quarantine of the others demanding Jizya has sent shiver of fear
amongst the Sikhs of Pakistan and the world community has also been
rattled. The Taliban and local Nazims are demanding Jizya from the
Hindus and the Sikhs-a detestable religious tax revived in India by
the bigoted Mughal Empire Aurangzeb, which was prevalent off and on
till the British had put an end to the barbaric system.

Sikh affairs in Pakistan were in disarray. Pakistan constituted a
Gurdwara management body in April 1999 with Lt. General Javed Nasir,
the hardcore Tablighi and former ISI chief as the chief. He opened his
office inside Gurdwara Nanakmatta, Lahore. After one year the body was
disbanded and one Shyam Singh (Sindhi) was appointed Chiarman. Shyam
Singh had earlier acted ac coordinator between the Sikh terrorists and
the ISI. However, there has not been any formal election to the
committee and the chairman, a front man of the ISI, manages the
religious affairs of the Sikh community in Pakistan. The Shiromani
Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee of India poses as self appointed
caretaker of the Sikhs of Pakistan. They are treated as a pliable tool
by Pakistan. It is alleged by certain Pakistani journalists that some
figures in the SGPC receive underhand money from Pakistan. It is
difficult for the author to probe authenticity of such allegations.

There are several comments in Pak media that Pakistan gives some
preferred treatment to the Sikhs because of its hidden agenda in
“Indian Punjab.” Pakistan had earlier encouraged, assisted and armed
the Sikh terrorists and even now the ISI has sheltered leaders of the
Khalistan Zindabad Force, Babbar Khalsa, Khalistan Commando Force,
Khalistan Liberation Force and the International Sikh Youth
Federation. Important leaders who live in Pakistan as guests of the
ISI are Lakhbir Singh Rode (nephew of Bhindranwale), Wadhwa Singh,
Mehal Singh, Vikram Singh Canada, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, Ranjit Singh
Nita etc. Pakistan is trying to revive terrorism in Punjab through
these desperate tools living at the mercy of the ISI. However,
collusion between the Sikh terrorists and the Pakistan establishment
does not offer any solace to common Sikhs. They live on the point of
threat of the Saif (sword) of Islam.

The Hindus of Pakistan, now reduced in number, have lost all leverages
in political, economic and administrative systems of Pakistan. There
are only two Captain rank doctors in Pakistan military hospital; Capt.
Danish and Capt. Aneel Kumar. There are no Hindu officers in the
fighting ranks. In the administrative services no Hindu holds high
position and to come by any Hindu in strategic lower position even in
the provinces of Punjab and Sind is rather impossible. They are not
simply trusted and are not given preference in spite of the fact that
some of them are better qualified. We must not forget Dipak Kaneria,
the Pakistani leg spinner, who is more shunted out of the team than
allowed to display his cricketing skill.

A major issue Hindus faced until 2002 was that of the separate
electorates for Muslims and non-Muslims. In the system of separate
electorates, members of religious minorities could only vote for
members of their group, which resulted in their marginalization in the
National Assembly. The Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association convened a
national conference on the issue in December 2000. In 2001, Hindus,
Christians and Ahmadiyas successfully conducted a partial boycott of
the elections. In 2002, Musharraf granted religious minorities the
right to vote for mainstream general seats of National and Provincial
assemblies, which they did in 2002. While this was definitely a
positive step for the well being of Hindus and the democratization of
Pakistan, it remains to be seen how this will affect their overall
status. Politically the Hindus have no voice in any power structure in
Pakistan, whereas in India the Muslims are gaining more political

Despite Musharraf’s assurances minorities are still elected to the
National Assembly from reserved constituencies. They are mostly
elected from Sind, Punjab (Multan), NWFP (Bannu) etc places. Majority
of them were elected to the NA from PPP tickets, though PML, PML N and
MQM also had fielded minority candidates in their own concentration
areas. Shabaz Bhatti, MNA from Lahore, belongs to an influential
family and is minister in charge of minority affairs. But his
portfolio has very little to do with minority welfare. Bhatti is
treated more as a minority face to a system that is squarely poised
against the minorities including the Ahmadiyas (treated as

The Hindus, who had received assurance from Jinnah, despite his not so
mute encouragement to communal killings, the community that counted
for one fourth of Pakistan’s population after independence is now
shrinking by the day; now they count for 1.6% of the population. Not
only the Hindus are discriminated in matters of jobs, services and any
other means of livelihood that require some sort of state patronage,
they are threatened, induced and even forced to convert to Islam.
Their landed properties are forcibly grabbed, their temples destroyed
and their women kidnapped systematically. Under such pressure
thousands of Hindus have escaped to India from Sind, Punjab and
Balochistan. In Rajasthan alone over 20,000 refugees from Pakistan are
living in temporary encampments or with relatives. Neither the
government of India nor the present Rajasthan government has taken up
any welfare programme to settle these refugees from Pakistan.

According to Seemant Lok Sangathan (SLS), a group working for refugees
in Rajasthan, over 10,000 Hindu migrants from Pakistan is living in
Jodhpur alone. Nearly 20,000 others are scattered in Jaisalmer and
other areas of Rajasthan areas bordering Pakistan. Efforts of the SLS
resulted in granting of long term visa by the government of India, but
no relief work was initiated.

Only during the last BJP government in Rajasthan more than 4, 50,000
refugees from Pakistan were given voting rights and one refugee was
given ticket to contest election. In contrast to this the new Congress
government closes eyes when hundreds of Pir Pagaro followers of Sind
(Muslims) cross over to India and settle down in the bordering
villages with their relatives and clansmen. The illegal Pir Pagaro
followers are given voting right, issued ration cards and are pampered
by the vote-bank political sharks. Here exist a situation similar to
West Bengal and Assam where political patronage by the ruling parties
encourage Pakistani Muslims to settle down on the bordering region.
Unfortunately for last 20 years the government has not undertaken any
survey of these Muslim dominated villages.

Interview of several Hindu refugees conducted during November-December
2009 indicate that they were physically assaulted, they were paid
paltry remuneration as against the Muslim employees. Parents have to
keep Muslim names for their children with a view to get admission in
schools. Besides destruction of temples, desecration of deities the
Hindus, mostly of lower casts are subjected to extortion and their
women are kidnapped, raped and converted to Islam. Hindus in Pakistan
are persecuted for their religious belief. Even the Sindhi rural
Muslim landlords indulge in forcible grabbing of lands belonging to
Hindu farmers. Few summed up points of inhuman condition in which the
Hindus have to live in Pakistan are enumerated below:

Hindu Children do not get admission into schools.
Hindus are converted into Islam by force.

Hindu Girls & Women are abducted, molested & raped.

Hindus and Sikhs are forced to pay Jizya Tax by Talibans.

Hindu Employees are beaten to death in the factory complex.

Provocations against Hindus are inserted in the school text books.

Hindu children are forced to pray Namaz & generally called as ‘Kaffir
Kutta’ – Infidel Dogs.

Hindu farmers and labours are forced to do their jobs as bonded
labours, with very paltry payment.

80% of lands are snatched from the Kaffir Hindus to fortify total
Islamisation of Pakistan.

The about 20% population of Hindus in Pak in 1947 came down to 1.6% in 1991.

Hindus in Pakistan are treated as 3rd Class citizens or not the
citizen of Pakistan at all.

The migrating Pakistani Hindus in India also face various troubles to
get long term visa.

The Government of India takes a very biased stand. They do not push
back the Pakistani Muslims to Pakistan from India, though their
presence is reported by agencies. The Hindus migrating from Pakistan
are treated as unwelcome guests and the vote-bank secularists treat
them as possible voters for their political opponents.

Besides these general observations certain specific instances may
drive home the message that Indians are not all concerned about the
Hindu-Buddhist-Christian minorities in Bangladesh and Hindu-Sikh and
Christian minorities in Paksitan. Destruction of one mosque at
Ayaodhya by Hindu fundamentalists had divided the country communally
as well as politically. However, when Hindu, Sikh and Christian
temples in Pakistan are destroyed these very “secularists” prefer to
look the other way. We have mentioned about the destruction of
Rangmahal Hindu temple in Lahore. In the heart of Liyari area of
Karachi a part of the Hindu temple at Baghdadi area was forcibly taken
over by a group of butchers and the sacred place is now used for
slaughtering animals. A huge portion of the temple land has been taken
over by the land mafia by forcing the Hindus to surrender the land at
a minimal cost. The Human Rights Commission of Punjab protested
against these incidents. But the governments at Karachi and Islamabad
did very little to restore the temple and the land in question to the
Hindu trustees.

According to BBC reporter Riaz Sohail (March 2007) Garish Kumar, an
engineer from Hyderabad was kidnapped and his mutilated body was later
discovered near a madrasa. Though police passed on this as an offence
by a militant organisation it was known in the area that Garish was
kidnapped for ransom and later killed. His is not the isolated case.
Kumar’s father Saspal Das is a trader at Kunri town in Umerkot
district. He was of the opinion that though more than 90% Hindus of
Pakistan live in PPP president and national president Zardari’s home
province he has very little time for minority welfare. However,
Kishenchand Parwani, adviser on minority affairs to the provincial
government openly refutes any atrocity against the Hindus but admits
that Hindus are targeted even in Karachi town by the communal Muslim
elements. In recent years kidnapping for ransom has become a routine
in Sukkur, Hyderabad, Larkana etc areas. Ramesh Lal, MNA agrees that
nearly 20 traders were kidnapped by the communal goons and only 12
could buy their release. Others were not rich enough to pay ransom and
lost their lives.

>From upper Sukkur four Hindu women were kidnapped in late October by a
known fundamentalist listed as a leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. They
were taken to a mosque, forcibly converted and married away to middle
aged married persons with children.
Surprisingly, the Indian Human Rights activists and secular
protagonists, who labour beyond all conceivable elasticity of the
Indian system, do not shed even crocodile’s tears for the
Hindu-Sikh-Christian minorities in Pakistan. These matters are not
even taken up either in first track or second track diplomatic talks
with Pakistan. Systematic destruction of Hindu temples and desecration
of Sikh temples do not attract attention of the Indian political
leaders and so-called secularist compradors. They are busy in
distributing largesse among the minorities (Muslim) in India but are
averse to even look at the plights of the Hindu minorities in Pakistan
and Bangladesh.

The minority situation was created by the partition of the country.
Plight of the minorities is an unfinished agenda of of the partition.
India is attending to that duty rather with pathological urgency in
respect of Indian Muslims. On the other hand in Pakistan and
Bangladesh the minorities are persecuted with pathological criminal
intentions. Can India not use diplomatic pressure, like other
unfinished agenda of the partition, to ensure better deals to the
minorities in the neighbouring countries? Would our secular,
democratic and human rightist political leaders dare to answer the
angry questions asked by the beleaguered Pakistani and Bangladeshi
minorities? One Kandhamal incident in Orissa had created political
storm amongst certain secularists, but systematic attack on Pakistani
Christians, Sikhs and Hindus do not ruffle the feathers of so called
secular and democratic leaders, NGO professionals and societal
organisations. Mera Bharat Mahan?

Courtesy: Maloy Krishna Dhar/

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