Minority rights: Gill, Bhatti concerned over parliament’s silence

Published: April 8, 2012
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Express fear over consequences of forced Hindu marriages, destruction of places of worship. DESIGN: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

Express fear over consequences of forced Hindu marriages, destruction of places of worship. DESIGN: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

ISLAMABAD: 

The lack of willingness to discuss marriages enforced on Hindu women, in parliament, will have seriously detrimental consequences on the country’s largest religious minority, according to the government’s top minority representatives.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, State Minister for Interfaith Harmony and Minorities Affairs Akram Masih Gill emphasised how the Hindu community’s decades-long struggle to have their marriages accepted by the legal system remains precarious – although a law to address the issue has been drafted, parliament remains silent on the matter.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Minorities’ Affairs Dr Paul Bhatti expressed similar concern after a one-on-one meeting with Gill, especially over the destruction of minorities’ places of worship. He said the problem was especially severe in Sindh and Punjab, where the population of minorities amounts to around eight million.

“It’s time to introduce legislation to protect minorities’ rights,” he added.

Representatives of minorities from interior Sindh conveyed their concerns when Hindu girls were being forced to marry Muslims after converting to Islam, Bhatti said.

“We had a sitting to discuss various issues, specifically forcible conversion of religion, enforced marriages, marriage registration and threats to their worship places,” Gill added.  In reply to a question about the security of Christian worship places, Dr Bhatti confirmed that the Christian community was also living in fear after increasing incidents of forced conversions.

“We both (Gill and Bhatti) conveyed our concerns to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani last month; Paul said the issue will be taken up with other lawmakers representing minorities to finalise the bill for marriage registration,” Gill said, stressing the need to give more power to the national commission for the protection of minority rights.

Gill also said that a meeting will be held by him and Dr Bhatti to discuss five to six departments which fall under the commission for legislation on minority affairs.

The issue of registration of Hindu marriages will also be taken up.

Fresh incidents in Sindh and Punjab have indicated that Hindus are facing severe problems in having their marriages registered, the minister said.  Concerns have also been conveyed to the provincial leadership for the protection of Hindus and their temples in Sindh and upper Punjab.

Gill added that another problem was that minority women feared that the Muslim majority would not come to their aid in cases of discrimination.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • raw is war
    Apr 8, 2012 - 12:35PM

    well, wht’s new?

    Recommend

  • Tahmina
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:51PM

    It s very unfortunate that liberals in Pakistan keep silent on the issues of minorites. Religious extremism threatens not only the rights of minorities but their lives and livelihood as well. There are not sufficent laws to protect their rights as citizens and their vulnerability through misappropriation of blasphemy laws continues to harm them. The current regime has passed some good legislation regardimg women’s rights however minorities continue to be persecuted.

    Recommend

  • true_blue_pakistani
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:33PM

    I support minority rights of Hindus, Christians and Sikhs and Ahmadiyyas.Recommend

  • MarkH
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:59PM

    @Tahmina:
    …do you know what a liberal is? Caring about those issues is almost a requirement to label a person as one.Recommend

  • akhileshji
    Apr 8, 2012 - 4:48PM

    actually whole ystem is invove in cleansing of Hindu minority!!

    Recommend

  • Yazmeen
    Apr 10, 2012 - 2:47PM

    Human rights and all that it entails is Islam’s cornerstone. These policies needed to be changed long ago – and honor the creation of a nation like Pakistan

    Recommend

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