Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry schooled Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on a government’s responsibility to protect minorities within its borders.
It started with Swaraj seeking a report from the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Ajay Biseria, on a recent forceful conversion case in Sindh. “I have asked Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on this,” she tweeted while linking news story.
Fawad responded to the Indian minister’s tweet by reminding her of the state of Muslims in India under the Narendra Modi-led government.
“Ma’am, it is Pakistan’s internal issue. Rest assured it is not Modi’s India where minorities are subjugated. It is Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan where the white colour of our flag is equally dear to us.”
The information minister expressed hope that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government will “act with same diligence when it comes to the rights of Indian minorities.”
Reportedly, two teenage Hindu girls were allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam before being married to Muslim men in Sindh. The incident came to light when video of the girls’ father and brother surfaced online. The men said that the teenagers were abducted and forced into conversion and marriage. However, another video circulating online showed the girls stating that they accepted Islam of their own free will.
Reports emerged that the teenagers had been moved to Punjabi city of Rahim Yar Khan from Ghotki, Sindh.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the situation and directed Sindh and Punjab governments to investigate the matter and recover the girls. He further told Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to ensure concrete steps were taken against forceful conversions.
Minorities in India under BJP
The Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2018 had also highlighted the failure of the Narendra Modi-led government in India to stop or credibly investigate attacks against religious minorities.
“Many senior leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism at the expense of fundamental rights for all Indians,” it said in a press release.
The report said that “mob attacks by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling BJP against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef”.
“Instead of taking prompt legal action against the attackers, police frequently filed complaints against the victims under laws banning cow slaughter.”
It also observed that the Indian government had failed to review and repeal the abusive Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in force in the disputed valley and in parts of India’s northeastern region – “which gives soldiers who commit violations effective immunity from prosecution”.
Recently, United Nations Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet warned India that its “divisive policies” can cause hindrance to New Delhi’s economic growth, Al Jazeera reported.
In the annual report to the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet said narrow political agendas were marginalising vulnerable people in an already unequal Indian society.
The high commissioner said the UNHRC was receiving reports indicating increasing harassment and targeting of minorities – particularly Muslims. “In India, where there had been significant poverty reduction in overall terms, inequality remained a serious issue,” she added.