At one point in Pakistan’s history, it appears that Dera Bugti was a diverse society with mosques, gurdwaras and temples existing peacefully side by side. Unfortunately, since 2006, all of these places of worship, which once provided solace to their followers, have been mangled by bullets and bombs, and remain as charred, damaged structures. Dishearteningly, many worshippers of these places are no longer in Dera Bugti to help restore the buildings to their initial healthy states; after the military operation ordered there by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, over 13,000 Hindus and 10 Sikh families emigrated out of the area. The Hindu families that remain in the area are not doing so well, with their homes and shops in ruins. In the light of this report, we must push for authorities to rehabilitate the area.
Regardless of the reasons for the military operation in Dera Bugti, it is highly neglectful on the part of the government to have ignored its restoration. It is especially disrespectful to have neglected the rehabilitation of the Hindu community considering the hardships and discrimination already faced by them in mainstream Pakistani society. The respect, loyalty and appreciation that the Hindu community shows to its hometown of Dera Bugti are not reciprocated by the government, underscoring the lack of will on its part to aid marginalised communities.
Already, one marginalised community in the area has left for good; no Sikhs remain in Dera Bugti. We should now focus on keeping the Hindu population there and the provincial government should work towards restoring the area and cleaning up the mess that was once made by those in power. After restoration is complete, members of the local Hindu community who have migrated to other areas of Pakistan should be called back to their homes to once again live peacefully with their families. Their businesses, shops and temples should be revived to restore life into the area that has now been deprived of it for too long.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2013.
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