Pakistan’s minorities are a diminishing population

DelhiWritten By: Rajan KhannaUpdated: Sep 03, 2019, 01:08 PM IST
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File photo. Photograph:(WION)

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The Hindu and Sikh minorities in that country are engaged in business and hence find it difficult to relocate.

In 1947, the population of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan was 23 per cent. Now officially, it stands at 1.6 per cent. After incessant attempts at forcible conversions of minorities, it could even be lesser.  

It is well-known that the Muslim population in the Indian subcontinent did not migrate from Arab lands; they were converted from local Hindus.

However, with the Partition, old ghosts were laid to rest and it was assumed that both countries would embark upon the journey of development and follow the tenets of peaceful coexistence.

India, on its part, has followed democratic traditions where different religions coexist. But Pakistan has not been able to extricate itself from the kafir-momin phenomenon.

Pakistan’s track record as far as treating its minorities is concerned is abysmal. Hardly a day passes by without its bigots heaping atrocities on small ethnic groups.

The recent incident of abduction, forcible marriage and religious conversion of a Sikh girl of Nankana Sahib is a telling example. Jagjit Kaur is daughter of the Granthi of Nanakana Sahib Gurdwara, the birthplace of Shri Guru Nanak Dev, in Pakistan. She was continuously threatened with abduction by jihadis and so, fearing the worst, her parents had sent her to her sister’s home. From there, the zealots abducted her at gunpoint in the middle of the night. Soon afterwards, she was forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim boy.

The drama followed the same old script, which has been used consistently in the case of forcible conversions. All state and non-state actors joyously came together to indulge in the “pious” act of converting a kafir into momin.

The modus operandi remains the same. Goons abduct and dishonour the girl, clergy renders theological support, police file wrong reports, political establishment joins the farce with false inquiries and judiciary plays its part by declaring that she has converted willingly.

The irony is that this incident has taken place in Nanakana Sahib, as the world celebrates Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth year.

Pakistan has been projecting to the world that it is also participating in the celebrations and is expressing keenness to develop Kartarpur Sahib.

The pertinent question is this: When Pakistan is not able to wind up its jihadist agenda and its state institutions collude with fanatics who torment minorities, why is it showing so much interest in developing the Kartarpur Sahib pilgrim corridor linking India?

The answer is not very difficult to find. Pakistan’s notorious spy agency ISI has long backed the Khalistani agenda and falsely entertains pretensions about sympathising with Sikh causes. The reality is that the Pakistani state harbours a deep-rooted hatred for the Sikhs because the latter was historically instrumental in facing and defeating Islamist tirades.

A few years ago, in the Aurkazai area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, threats were issued to some Sikh businessmen to either pay jaziya or get ready to get eliminated.

When the brave Sikhs declined, some of them were shot down in broad daylight. Warnings were issued against lifting the bodies so that the surviving members of the community could be terrorised.

The Hindu and Sikh minorities in that country are engaged in business and hence find it difficult to relocate.

Hindus, concentrated mainly in the Sindh province, have faced jihadist elements for a long time now. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at an average, 1,000 Hindu girls are converted to Islam on an annual basis.

Pakistan’s record of treating its Christian and Ahmadiyya population is also unenviable. Blasphemy laws are applied on the slightest pretext to browbeat minorities. The recent incident of persecution of Asia Bibi, a Christian, gained international notoriety.

So long as Pakistan does not rein in its Islamist bigots, it will not be able to put an end to the atrocities committed on minorities by such tanzeems.

The international community has a meaningful role to play in putting an end to such atrocities against minorities at the hands of the Pakistani state.

For its part, India, as per its declared policy, should welcome and settle these persecuted minorities of Pakistan that seek shelter in India.

(This article was originally published on The DNA. Read the original article)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)