ISLAMABAD: Hindu girls are being forcibly kept in various madrassas in Sindh and are later forced to marry Muslims, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Dr Azra Fazl told the National Assembly on Thursday. She was speaking on issue of Faryal Shah (Rinkle Kumari) who was allegedly abducted and forced to marry and convert to Islam earlier this month in Sindh.
While speaking on the point of order, Fazl said that Hindus are facing a lot of challenges in Sindh. She stressed the need for legislation to protect minority rights and to end forced conversions.
Fazl, who is also the sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, highlighted the issue in the parliament at a time when her brother received a sharply-worded letter from California Congressman Brad Sherman urging him to take action to ensure the return of Faryal to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a PPP lawmaker.
Nafeesa Shah, another MNA from Sindh also endorsed her colleague’s idea and said that the parliament should introduce legislation on “forced conversions”. Various non-Muslims were being forced to accept Islam as being reported by the media, she observed.
“Protection of the minorities should be ensured as enshrined in the Constitution,” Shah added.
Majority of lawmakers including Lal Chand and Mehish Kumar representing minorities in the parliament expressed concerns over the kidnapping and forced conversions of Hindu girls. They said it was the right of every person to accept any religion but nobody can be forced in this regard.
MNA Justice (retd) Fakhar-un-Nisa stressed on the implementation of laws when it comes to solve the issue of minorities. “Minorities’ rights should be protected at all cost.”
Giving a policy statement on floor of the House, Minister of State for Interfaith Harmony and Minorities Affairs Akram Masih Gill said that the present government has taken unprecedented steps for the uplift and empowerment of minorities. He said these include fixation of five percent quota in government jobs and declaration of August 11 as the Minorities Day.
“Parliament should enact a law to avoid forced conversions,” he remarked.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Shehnaz Wazir Ali said that under the 18th Amendment, four seats have been reserved for minorities in the Upper House.
“During the last few years several laws have been enacted including Human Rights Commission for the protection of the rights of women and minorities.”
Forced Islamiat lessons for minorities
Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Dr Araish Kumar added to the conversation by saying that the minorities were being forced to read Islamic studies in Pakistan.
“Our students are being forced to read subject Islamiat in the government schools,” Kumar said adding, “If they refuse to study Islamic studies, they are struck off by the school administration.”