Hindus, other minorities in Pakistan face surge of violence

Published: May 6, 2014
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A member of the Hindu community holds a damaged statue inside a temple that was attacked in Larkana in Sindh. PHOTO: REUTERS

A member of the Hindu community holds a damaged statue inside a temple that was attacked in Larkana in Sindh. PHOTO: REUTERS

RAHIM YAR KHAN: The mob arrived at around midnight, brandishing clubs. They smashed statues, looted gold artefacts and then set the Hindu temple ablaze.

An accusation of blasphemy sparked the attack in the town of Larkana, human rights activists said, part of a spike in violence against Hindus in predominately Muslim Pakistan.

March was the worst month for attacks on Hindus in 20 years with five temples attacked, up from nine during the whole of 2013, said Life for All, a rights group. But it’s not just Hindus who feel victimised.

All minorities in the country – Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis and even Shia Muslims – feel that the state fails to protect them, and even tolerates violence against them.

Many complain the problem has become worse since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power last year.

Non-Muslims make up a small fraction of the 180 million people in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the hero of the country’s creation as a haven for the sub-continent’s Muslims, ushered in independence in 1947 with a promise to minorities that they would enjoy freedom of worship and equality without discrimination.

But for many members of Pakistan’s minorities those words ring hollow.

The US Commission on Religious Freedom said in a recent report that conditions in Pakistan had “hit an all-time low” and governments had failed to adequately protect minorities and arrest perpetrators of crimes against them.

“Pakistan is increasingly failing to protect its minorities for two broad reasons: principally, rising religious intolerance and the space ceded to violent ideologies,” said Sherry Rehman, who was a government minister and ambassador to the United States under the previous administration.

Activists say tolerance of militancy provides cover for opportunist attacks by those who just want to grab land, homes or businesses of minority neighbours under the guise of religion.

Hindus and members of other minorities say the situation has worsened since Nawaz won an election last year. Nawaz has close ties with Saudi Arabia, whose brand of conservative Wahhabi Islam is preached by many of the people who denounce minorities.

‘Impunity’

Whatever the cause of the surge of violence and abuse, many Hindus in Punjab are feeling beleaguered and increasingly looking to get out. More than 100 families are leaving for India each month, rights groups say.

Among those who have gone were Munawar Jee’s brothers and their families after his married sister was kidnapped last year. Her abductors got her certified as a Muslim convert and re-married her off the next day. Recanting Islam would mean she could legally be put to death.

“Losing my sister is the biggest regret of my life,” Jee told Reuters at his shoe shop in Punjab’s Rahim Yar Khan district. He said he would soon join his family in India.

Hindus say their women are easy targets for rape or forced marriage. Temples are attacked and looted. Accusations of blasphemy, punishable by death, are increasingly being used to drive Hindus from their homes, they say.

Punjab, the prime minister’s heartland, had until recently been a refuge for Hindus compared with some other areas.

But the province has also become a power base for militant groups.

Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid did not return calls seeking comment on policy towards minorities. A Punjab government spokesperson rejected the suggestion that authorities were not doing enough to help Hindus.

“The government is committed to protect its religious minorities,” said Shoaib Bin Aziz, adding he was not aware of an increase of Hindus leaving. He denied that the provincial government was soft on militancy.

“Terrorists are not friends of anyone,” he said. “The Punjab government does not have soft corner for any terrorist organisation.”

Hindu activist Kirshan Sharma said such reassurances meant little. The government refused to protect Hindus, he said.

“What hope can Hindus see in the country’s future?” Sharma questioned.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Kirmani
    May 6, 2014 - 12:02PM

    Most of these incidents have been reported in Sindh which has been under the “liberal” rule of corruption party

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  • RKM
    May 6, 2014 - 12:47PM

    I am one of the minority, you, ET, are not doing anything helpful. By showing the above picture you are just putting salt to wounds. For the sake of God, please put some other picture.

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  • FactisFact
    May 6, 2014 - 1:01PM

    Shame on Pakistan…

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  • Feroz
    May 6, 2014 - 1:14PM

    Fear of Allah has deserted the land of the Pure, now every crime is brazenly conducted in the name of Allah. Divine Justice can neither be purchased or postponed.

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  • MA
    May 6, 2014 - 1:52PM

    This is wrong and shameful

    “If the above picture hurts someone sentiments then please replace it”

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  • Mega
    May 6, 2014 - 2:13PM

    And they lecture others

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  • Rajesh
    May 6, 2014 - 2:22PM

    Five temples destroyed in one month. Nine in one year.

    And still pakistanis complain about indian hindus for destroying one single mosque 20 years ago.

    I want to see their face when they write such comments…….

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  • umer
    May 6, 2014 - 3:42PM

    Temples destroyed in Pakistan recently is not supported by any political party, social organization, institutions or the Government. These are crimes committed by fringe elements and should be considered as a law and order issue.

    Babri Masjid destruction was committed by a national party and throughout the campaign the ruling party did not do anything to stop them. The destruction was done under the nose of a legal authority which kept silent. Both are entirely different issues.

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  • Parvez
    May 6, 2014 - 4:03PM

    Such disgraceful behaviour on the part of Muslims only goes to strengthen the beliefs of the non-Muslims……….and more importantly it destroys the image of Islam as a tolerant religion.

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  • genesis
    May 6, 2014 - 4:08PM

    Allow Hindus to leave the country with dignity. Pakistan was founded on the theory that the two communities are two nations and cannot live in the same place.Pakistan should accept all Muslims from India based on this theory and allow Hindus to leave,

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  • Hindu in Pain
    May 6, 2014 - 4:53PM

    We have seen a rapid erosion of tolerance and ideals that make a viable democracy which Pakistan never had in its entire history despite the sham elections it held last year. The minorities of any nation are its assets; you cannot intimidate and persecute minorities because that will invite international condemnation and isolation of your country which, anyway, has lost credibility in the eyes of the world. It is a kasai nation (nation of butchers) that begs money for mere survival. You do not have a population that can contribute to nation building; it has only indulged in destruction and killings. How long will you continue to do so? By failing to condemn and take stern action, you are merely encouraging the radical extremist forces in your country who are, literally, getting away with murder. Whither civilization, Pakistan! Also, nobody will ever fall for your crocodile tears which you shed from time to time over the fate of Muslims in other countries. Believe you me, Muslims in India are ashamed to be linked with your country in any way. Indeed, the Muslims who migrated to Pakistan at the time of partition would give anything to return to India, if given an opportunity.

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  • Blunt
    May 6, 2014 - 5:01PM

    Although there are other affected minorties in Pakistan, but I am not surprised at all why ET has chosen to name only hindus in the title of the article.

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  • water bottle
    May 6, 2014 - 6:29PM

    Meanwhile Hindus were beaten up, their houses looted and a temple destroyed in Bangladesh.

    This is a problem of the Muslim world and not just that of Pakistan.

    Now, Bangladeshi illegal immigrats are causing problem in Indian states also.Recommend

  • Jewish conspirator
    May 6, 2014 - 6:37PM

    Nawaz Sharif sahib, this is unacceptable for the nation. Also, what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is doing on the temple burning incidents???????

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  • goggi (Lahore)
    May 6, 2014 - 7:30PM

    Load Shedding can be abolished with immediate effect by renaming the term with the appropriate term “light hour”!

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  • Asad
    May 6, 2014 - 8:24PM

    Pakistan is going to be valley of mullahs.where the liberty of all individual are snatched by them. There is no need to be worrying about that crucial moments.As they are senseless, and monotones people with zero exploratory vision and having the habit of blind following….
    ..

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  • um
    May 6, 2014 - 9:03PM

    @Rajesh:
    we condemn temples destroyed. but do you condemn the fact that in most residential areas muslims are not allowed in India? do you condemn the fact that your new prime minister is probably a mass murderer? please fix your own problems then look at us.

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  • Safwan
    May 6, 2014 - 9:35PM

    @Rajesh the main peoblem are not the mosques, but the Muslims in India that are killed in episodes of communal violence. Which basically happen on a daily basis.

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  • Rudra
    May 6, 2014 - 9:58PM

    These people don’t even have reason to destroy those temples. The people who did babri Babur raised the mosque by demolishing ram temple of age old era and built mosque on its ruins.A holy shrine. What’s your excuse to dismantle temple daily other than carry baburs legacy of attacking holy sites?

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  • Aseem
    May 6, 2014 - 11:11PM

    @umer:
    Destroying places of worship is not just a law & order issue. There was not even a provocation to do such acts. when it happens recurrently and in cold blood its an outcome of some political, religious, social agenda. no political party is claiming to do these, but no political party is stopping these as well.

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  • freedomatcost
    May 6, 2014 - 11:33PM

    only one masjid destructed in india even after backing of one of the largest party…..but in pakistan five temples destroyed in one month without any political support ….then compare india with pakistan which is more secular ..one with political support [30% people ] succeed in only one attempt in last 65 years or one with tiny support succeed in five attempts in one month.
    summary… INDIA EVEN AFTER 30% SUPPORT TRY HER BEST TO KEEP HER SECULAR STATUS….WHILE PAKISTAN EVEN AFTER NEGLIGIBLE SUPPORT FAILED TO SAVE MINORITIES..
    Note…those 30% are non secular only in views of some people,
    In technical language efficiency matters and India is more efficient in protecting her minorities and i think India is only country in world where minorities increased from 7% to 15% in just 65 years……also India contents 1.2 b population of world and even more complicated is her diversity but still she is progressing,trying to improves lives of her each child..looking mess in other countries which are based on one religion,one language,one culture….India doing her best
    I admit India has drawbacks but looking back those drawbacks are negligible compare to her achievement..

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  • Javed
    May 7, 2014 - 12:04AM

    If Pakistan is bad for minorities then what about India whose politicians are currently attacking the minorities in their speeches to get more votes?! What about the recent killings of 45 Muslims in India? And that news did not even appear on the front page of ET! I dont remember a Gujrat-like incident happening in Pakistan, like India where 4000 Muslims were killed within weeks while no one being held responsible even after years! One could write several novels regarding the bad situation of minorities in the so-called “Shining India”!

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  • Sobriquet
    May 7, 2014 - 12:20AM

    @Rajesh:
    @umer:
    Kindly check your facts.
    The Babri Mosque had not been used by Muslims for Namaaz from the time of the British rule, so it was a mosque only in name and not in function. In addition, the reverse side of many of the stone blocks of the structure have non-Islamic engravings on them, and it has an old Hindu temple (still there) in the compound.

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  • Bilal
    May 7, 2014 - 1:34AM

    “March was the worst month for attacks on Hindus in 20 years with five temples attacked, up from nine during the whole of 2013…” Wow, 2013 was a great year :)

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  • observer
    May 7, 2014 - 2:12AM

    Pakistanis and Muslims in general keep harping on the destruction of Babri Masjid, just one, in India but have no problem with the hundreds of temples destroyed in Pakistan and Bangladesh in the past few years, never mind the thousands destroyed by the Muslim invaders over the past eight centuries.

    At least in the case of the Babri, it was a symbol of desecration by Babur who destroyed one of the holiest Hindu temples and build the Babri masjid over it. Hindus have been requesting that the site be returned to them since mid 19th century. Unfortunately, instead of handing over the site (there has been no worship in Babri for over 70 years) in the name of reconciliation and good gesture, the Muslims chose to be confrontational. Other holiest Hindu temples such as the Somnath, Kashi had been destroyed by Muslim invaders who built mosques on the sites.

    So, while the Hindus have some valid historical grievance, what is the justification for the continued destruction temples in Pakistan (and Bangladesh) every month?

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  • Gurion
    May 7, 2014 - 2:59PM

    So, this is how “peaceful” 650 AD was!

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  • NotSoCommon
    May 7, 2014 - 11:53PM

    @Gurion

    Very well put in!

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  • Surya
    May 8, 2014 - 12:35AM

    India has seen worse. My entire community of Kashmiri Pandits have been thrown out of the Kashmir Valley in 1991. Half a million Pandits displaced, our temples razed, and nobody says a word in India! I think we learned this from Pakistan.

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  • Nishan
    May 8, 2014 - 10:50AM

    I think its far far better for the Hindu, Christians as well as other non Muslim countries to ask US Govt. for Free Visa and Tickets to move to US and the can easily gain jobs there…

    I am sure US will be very happy to have them as they require sweepers and other needed people for doing small jobs.

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  • time traveller
    May 8, 2014 - 11:42AM

    Arabian Timesemphasized text

    6th century AD:A member of the Hindu community holds a damaged statue inside a temple that was attacked in k abba.

    Police reports that around 360 idols were destroyed.

    Et please publish this report cos its based on facts.

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  • Norman Konig
    May 8, 2014 - 7:50PM

    Ahemdiya community is also being targeted in all over the Pakistan even their graves or graveyards are not saved with hands of so called Pakistani Muslims as they are the only Muslims in the world to decide who is in the Islam and who is Muslim and who is not,

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  • genesis
    May 8, 2014 - 9:53PM

    @Javed:
    Those ’45’ person’s are illegal entrants which no country is willing to accept like the Rohingays.All expect only India to share this burden and aggravate the social tensions even more Why are they not gong to other Islamic nations if India is such a bad and hostile country. These illegal immigrants are causing tremendous problems. Even as illegal entrants they insist on their way of life and are unwilling to adopt the local life patterns leading to all these conflicts.

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  • Cherry
    Jun 10, 2014 - 12:08PM

    I agree with those who are of the opinion that
    based on the theory of 2 country formation all
    Muslims from India should go to Pakisitan and Hindus should come back here and live with dignity. I hope this will solve most of our problems. More so both the countries can live in Peace.

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  • k
    Jul 25, 2014 - 5:17PM

    @umer:

    Whenever anything horribly goes wrong in India and against Indians, Pakistan government calls it as work done by non state actors like Hafiz Saeed …. who butchered the166 Mumbaikars in 2008? Do you really think govt of Pakistan did not know? You blithely say oh “Temples destroyed in Pakistan recently is not supported by any political party, social organization, institutions or the Government”
    To which I want to know… what is the govt of pk doing about it? None of us in India are proud of babri masjid.. The state govt was dismissed but what exactly has been done about Mumbai terrorism of 2008? Don’t patronize and insult our intelligence in dismissing the crimes against Hindus in PK as that done by fringe elements… Must say that your fringe elements are far stronger and active than your government

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