A former deputy attorney general has claimed that, faced with “grave danger”, Hindu families settled in Pakistan are immigrating to other countries.
Khurshid Khan made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday on his return from a five-day unofficial trip to rural Sindh, where 93 % of the country’s Hindu population lives.
During his fact-finding mission, the ex-attorney general met leaders of the Hindu community, victims of kidnapping, family members of ‘forced converts’, right activists and other officials.
He pointed out that the deteriorating law and order situation, extortion, land-gabbing and kidnapping of young non-Muslim girls and forced conversions were the main reasons for the migration of the Hindu community.
Khan’s claims come just days after a parliamentary committee constituted by President Asif Ali Zardari rejected claims of mass migration of minority communities from the country.
“The impression came after some 400-500 Hindu devotees left for India for a routine religious pilgrimage,” said one of the committee members.
On Tuesday, Khan also lashed out at Interior Minister Rehman Malik for making “false” statements regarding the 250 people, or 70 families, who recently migrated to India and other countries.
The interior minister had dismissed the reports of migrations terming them an international conspiracy aimed at defaming Pakistan.
“The minister had mishandled the whole issue,” Khan said.
Khan revealed that Dalits – low-caste Hindus – are living in miserable conditions and are often subjected to abuse and forced labour by landlords and other influential people.
“Ironically, the upper classes of Hindus who are prosperous, wealthy, and well-educated remain aloof to the suffering of the Dalits,” he said.
Since January, 108 Hindus, all belonging to the upper class, were kidnapped for ransom from Lakrana and Sukkur divisions alone, he claimed and regretted that police and administration officials are least interested in taking action against extortionists and kidnappers who apparently enjoy support of lawmakers.
Highlighting discrimination at the government level, Khan claimed that “there are 101 federal secretaries in the country, and not a single one of them is from religious minority.”
“Minorities were also ignored in their due share of 5% in getting federal jobs,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2012.