President Asif Ali Zardari recently met with the parliamentary committee, which he formed following the incident involving Manisha Kumari to address the grievances of Pakistan’s Hindu community. The committee visited various districts in Sindh and found that the community’s top-most concerns were the kidnappings and forced conversion of Hindu girls to Islam.
Thank you, President Zardari, for finally taking notice of the grievances of our Hindu community. However, while the president and other government figures have recently chanted that minorities should be allowed to practise their faiths freely, minority and human rights supporters have yet to see progress. The issues are nothing new; the government has been aware of the injustices towards Hindus and other minorities over the past several years, since they have occurred frequently all across Pakistan. Some incidents have stirred the emotions of the entire human rights community, locally and internationally. What minority communities and human rights activists would like to see is verbal promises by the president and other government figures being put into effect. Furthermore, not once has anyone proposed replacing the blasphemy law altogether with a law that upholds the rights of every religion and protects against any sort of hatred or discrimination faced by followers of all faiths. In Pakistan, it is apparent that those who are seen fewer in number, the minorities, are also seen as lesser in rank and in class and consequently seen as less deserving of rights.
The situation has worsened to the point where the president cannot merely “hope” that parliamentarians, religious leaders and members of civil society will recommend ways to deal with the issues of minorities. He must take a stronger and more proactive position for the betterment of the lives of our minority communities. We want implementation, justice and recognition for minority communities as a people who are just as deserving of basic human rights as the majority in this country. Mere discussions will not do.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2012.
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