Editorial Daily Times
March 25, 2019
Religious minorities continue to be the targets of heinous crimes in Pakistan. The abduction, forced religious conversion and marriages of two teenage Hindu girls from Ghotki, Sindh is yet another grim reminder of the state of minority rights in the Islamic Republic. Such incidents are hardly a rare occurrence. Last month, a 35-year old Christian woman from Islamabad was also targeted in a similar crime and remains missing. Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has taken notice of the more recent incident after videos have circulated on social media of the two girls’ father and brother giving their account of the incident. Another video of the girls themselves has also been making the rounds, saying that they had left their families and become Muslim of their own free will. However, this is a very frequent occurrence.
Hindu to Muslim conversions in Sindh seem to be exclusively underage girls or women of marriageable age who disappear and later emerge to reveal they had eloped with Muslim men and converted to Islam freely. The fact that there are hardly any Hindu men or older women who convert to Islam reveals the grim reality behind this facade. Quite often, the women or girls also seem to belong to poor scheduled class families while their new Muslim families are powerful and influential. These incidents are also shockingly frequent. Human Rights activists have revealed that at least 25 forced conversions of Hindu girls and women take place in Umerkot’s Kunri and Samaro talukas alone.
This is why the PM’s taking notice of this one incident will have little if any effect. What needs to be done is to get to the bottom of why law enforcement agencies have failed to curb this problem, as well as why Qazis are allowed to carry out conversions in such suspicious circumstances.
It is necessary that Pakistan provide its citizens with equal footing in terms of human rights. Furthermore, after the Pulwama incident, Pakistan has been able to bring the plight of the Muslim minority in India into the international spotlight. It is necessary that we keep our house clean as well if we are to keep the moral high ground. Pakistan and the rest of the Subcontinent must be an inclusive region if it is to ever see peace and prosperity. *