Religious intolerance has been evident in Pakistan since 1947, the Pakistan Christian Post reports. However, Islamic extremism has been on the rise in recent years, brutally attacking Christians and Hindus, and forcing hundreds of religious minorities to flee their home cities.
By Asif Aqeel
8/18/2012 Pakistan (Pakistan Christian Post) – The Pakistani nation was baffled by the news on Thursday, August 9, that 250 Hindus had been debarred from crossing into India by the Interior Ministry despite these folks had valid Indian visas. Interior Affairs Minister Rehman Malik appeared on TV channels and stated that the Indian embassy had “hatched a conspiracy” against Pakistan by issuing 250 visas to the Hindus. Malik, whose Senate membership was suspended by the Supreme Court over dual nationality but was restored when he revoked the U.K.’s citizenship, said that the Hindus could leave only after issued “no objection certificate”. The matter has got so much attention that the Indian parliament and Pakistani Parliament are discussing Hindus’ exodus from Pakistan.
Before these Hindus were allowed to cross the Indo-Pak border, they shared their woes with the Pakistani media. They said that “their shops were looted, their houses were raided by unknown men and their women were forcefully converted” to Islam in the province of Sindh. These stopped Hindus held a protest after which the Pakistani government allowed them to cross over to India the next day. This embarrassing news made the Sindh Chief Minister Kaim Ali Shah and President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari take notice of the incident. A presidential inquiry committee was set up to end plight of Hindus. There is very little hope that the committee’s recommendations would bring any change that could halt exodus of religious minorities. In 2009 the Pakistani government set up a judicial commission to inquire the Gojra attacks in which dozens of houses of the Christians were set alight and eight Christians were killed. The judicial report identified responsible elements and also suggested amendments in the blasphemy laws. Alas! To this day, no attention has been paid to the judicial commission’s recommendations. The outcome of this presidential inquiry can be assessed from the fact that Malik’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has submitted its report that no exodus of Hindus is taking place and the Hindu lackeys in the government have also denied any migration of Hindus.
Rather than taking note of flight of 250 Hindus, the government should identify and mitigate the migration push factors that force minorities to leave the country. There are roughly 200 million Muslims living in India but their migration to Pakistan is almost non-existent. It is religious intolerance which just does not scare religious minorities but even Muslims, especially those belonging to the minority sects.
Few very recent examples would be sufficed to show how intolerant the Pakistani society has become. These days, the Pakistani Muslims, like rest of the Muslim ummah, are fasting in the month of Ramadan. The police in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, are raiding cafes in posh areas to enforce Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance, 1981 (the ordinance prohibits public eating during the month of Ramadan from morning till evening). It is not enough! The people themselves take law into their own hands for implementation of this rule introduced by a military dictator in 1981. On July 30 nine Christian nurses in Karachi were given poisonous tea to avenge their eating and drinking during Ramadan. No arrest could be made in this incident. On July 30 Airport Security Staff lady inspector on an airport in Lahore “severely thrashed” an assistant of passengers handling “for taking a phone call of her husband on her cell minutes before Iftar” (the fast breaking time). Religious zealotry by civilians does not stop to beating but can go as far as taking life of the offender in Pakistan. In a recent harrowing incident, a fuming mob beat and burned alive a mentally ill man in the city of Bahawalpur for “throwing pages from the Holy Quran onto the street”. On July 04 the police had formally arrested this mentally ill person and locked him up in the police station. But this did not satisfy the angry protestors, numbering from 1500 to 2000. The protestors surrounded the police station, torched four vehicles, overpowered the few police officers present there and dragged the mentally ill man in the middle of the road where they burned him to death. These very recent incidents show that not just religious minorities but even any Muslim man or a woman is not secure in Pakistan.
Religious intolerance, introduced by the Urdu-speaking migrant leadership for political mileage in ethnically divided Pakistan, has been evident since 1947. The Objectives Resolution, introduced in 1949, divided the nation between Muslim and non-Muslim. The Hindus were the first, then were the Ahmadis, in 80’s were the Shias and Zikris and with the dawn of the 21st century the Sunni sects of Brailvi and Deobandi have got engulfed in its flames. The pre-partition communal violence between Hindus and Muslims has now been replaced by Muslim mobs ransacking houses of Christians and setting them on fire.
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