A monitoring cell will be formed by the minority community to oversee the counting of their households in Sindh in the upcoming census.
“We are represented by two senators, eight MNAs and 10 MPAs in Sindh and they are responsible for protecting and serving our community,” said speakers at the All Sindh Minority Census Convention, organised by Young Hindu Panchayat in Hyderabad on Friday. They said that if the community was not treated justly in the census, then they would hold their elected representatives responsible.
Addressing the convention, Pakistan Muslim League-Q MNA Kishan Chand Parwani, who was elected on reserved seats, said that minorities in Pakistan are treated as “third-rate citizens”.
“Being considered a negligible minority, our representation in the country’s top bureaucracy is disappointing,” he said.
Parwani urged his community, especially the educated class, to help others realise and understand the importance of the census.
The census monitoring cell would watch the process closely and ensure that the Hindus are treated fairly.
He condemned the incidents in which Hindu girls were forced to convert to Islam after marrying Muslim men.
While the Hindus had trouble settling in Pakistan, India was not giving all of them visas either, so the minority community did not even have the option of resettling, said Parwani.
Meanwhile, Awami Tehreek President Advocate Ayaz Latif Palijo acknowledged that there were communal problems in Pakistan and said that the status of minority communities had actually sunk even lower in the recent years.
“Hundreds of thousands of Hindus migrated to India after partition and those who were left behind [in Pakistan] hoped they would merge with the majority here,” he said. Time has proved, however, that their hopes were in vain. Since partition, they have only been ostracised further, he added.
But all is not lost, Palijo said. The trend is slowly starting to change. “A new Sindh is being created, in which protests and complaints are being replaced by an organised struggle for people’s rights and just demands.”
Palijo also criticised forceful conversions and said there should be at least three conditions applicable to a conversion after marriage. “The girl should be 18 years or above. She should testify before a sessions court judge about her conversion instead of the current practice of testifying at a mosque or madarassa. Parents of a girl who elopes to marry with a Muslim should be allowed to meet her within 72 hours.”
Emphasising the importance of the census for people in Sindh, Palijo said that the Hindu community would also be counted in the process and therefore, be able to get their due rights.
Sindh Taraqi Pasand (STP) President Qadri Magsi said that Hindus had as much right on this land as other communities do.
“We all are Sindhis, our elders, our land and our traditions are the same,” he said.
Magsi said that the present condition of Hindus was not just the Muslims’ fault. He blamed the Hindu landlords in the rural areas and the Hindu business community in the cities.
Sindh is the land of Sufis, who professed love and freedom. “There is no place for segregation, discrimination or servitude here,” he added.
Advocate Arjundas, leader of the Pakistan Menghwadh Council, stressed the need to create awareness in the Hindu community of the census’s importance. “If we are unable to tell people about it, we will blame ourselves in the future,” he cautioned.
He criticised the leadership of nationalist parties for leaving the Hindu families to fend for themselves every time there was a problem or a crisis. “We have yet to see a nationalist leader visit a family whose daughter has been forcefully converted.”
Social activist Amar Sindhu was of the view that the discrimination between Hindus and Muslims had been nurtured since partition. She blamed religious leaders of the two communities for being a hurdle in the way of greater assimilation.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2011.
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