The increase in the number of reports of Hindu girls being kidnapped or made to convert to Islam has sparked concern from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
At the launch of its report on minorities in Pakistan titled ‘Perils of Faith’, HRCP’s Amarnath said minor girls and married women are kidnapped and then converted to Islam. “They kidnap girls who are younger than 15 but they say they are adults and that the girls have accepted Islam and been married of their own free will”, he said. He also pointed out that no one is supporting the Hindu community on the issue. “We are Pakistanis first, and then Hindu. We earn enough and have food to eat but this conversion issue is not acceptable, it has discouraged Hindus in Pakistan.”
HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf noted that the “situation of religious minorities in Pakistan has grown worse over the last year. The government has not taken steps which could improve the status of minorities.”
Yusuf also highlighted the condition of the Hazara community in Balochistan, who are targeted and killed or kidnapped for ransom. “Minorities are not considered equal citizens in Pakistan. Some incidents that happened in 2011 have increased their vulnerability”, she said, citing the assassinations of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and the ex-federal minister for minorities affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti.
Yusuf also pointed out that the curriculum taught in schools, only teach children about “Islamic and Pakistani heroes. Other communities including Parsis have a role in the development of Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2012.