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Forced conversion of Hindus in Pakistan jolts US out of slumber

By Chidanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s state-endorsed discrimination, and in some cases extermination, of its minorities has finally caught the eye of Washington lawmakers. Coming on the heels of support in Congress for a Baloch homeland in the face of Islamabad’s depredations in the region, a US Congressman has zeroed in on the abduction and forced religious conversion of Hindus in the country highlighted by the case of Rinkel Kumari.

In a sharply-worded letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Congressman Brad Sherman urged him to take action to ensure the return of Rinkel Kumari to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker. In a case that has been widely reported in the liberal Pakistani media, Rinkel, who was abducted on February 24, was forced to marry one Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.

She was subsequently produced before a civil judge twice, but she was reportedly coerced into claiming that she had converted on her own will, even as her family was denied access to her in kangaroo court proceedings that revealed in video clips to be led by a frenzied mob of zealots, including armed followers of the Pakistani lawmaker. According to Pakistani civil liberties activists in Washington DC, Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.

”Rinkel Kumari’s case is just one case of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan,” Congressman Sherman said in the letter to Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month. ”I urge you to take all necessary steps to bring an end to this practice and other harassment of Hindus in Pakistan.”

The Rinkel Kumari case was brought to the attention of US lawmakers not by Hindu activists but by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC), a lobby group that, like the Baloch groups, is increasingly asserting the secular and syncretic identity of Pakistan’s Sindhi community in the face of growing Islamization in the country. Sapac activists are telling US lawmakers that state sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant and is causing Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan in droves.

Hindus, who constituted more than 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population soon after Partition, have now dwindled to less than two per cent, mostly in some districts of Sindh. There have been several reports in recent months of Hindu families seeking to migrate to India in the face of growing radical Islamization of Pakistan, including abduction and forcible conversions, but it is the first time that Washington, which literally slept over Pakistan’s genocide of Bengalis in 1970-71, is paying attention to the issue.

US interest in the Rinkel Kumari case comes close on the heels of sudden support in Congress for Baloch self-determination, an effort led by California lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher. That effort has rattled Islamabad to the extent that it has told American interlocutors that Pakistan-US ties will be deeply affected if Washington interfered in Balochistan, even though the Obama administration has clarified that support for an independent Balochistan is confined to the Hill, where lawmakers are free to introduce any legislation they deem appropriate. That in turn resulted in Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.,, writing to House Speaker John Boehner, expressing deep concern over Congressional action on Balochistan.

Courtesy: TOI

Death by 140 characters

– The great equaliser: death by 140 characters – Dr Mohammad Taqi

….. The said televangelist, speaking on his current television show, has since impugned the authenticity of the video and has claimed that the clip had been fabricated by way of editing and dubbing to malign him by other channels and jealous people. Maybe so. Moreover, in biometrics, voice authentication is already an established tool, along the lines of fingerprinting, available to forensic scientists to confirm identity.

The video was removed from YouTube due to a copyrights claim. But before that many users of contemporary media had reportedly downloaded it already. The new balance of power is apparently still lost on the media honchos giving space and airtime to hypocrisy, lies and slanted truths. Death by a thousand cuts has decimated superpowers. If they do not heed the audience, death by 140 characters (on Twitter) is the equaliser that could seal the fate of the traditional media dinosaurs running the show.

To read complete article → Daily Times

Terrorists in ‘Command and Control’?

– BY IMDAD SOOMRO

» During recent incidents of violence, ISI recorded conversations between Command and Control Centre officials and target killers, On Feb 28, SHC ordered handing over centre to Home Department, but directives not complied with so far

SINDH: KARACHI – The officials of the Command and Control Centre established by former Karachi nazim Mustafa Kamal is aiding target killers and terrorists in their activities, Pakistan Today has learnt. Sources said that with their eyes on various parts of the city through the cameras installed all across the metropolitan, the officials of the centre’s Cam Wing provide anti-social elements with information about movement of the police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies as well as instructions for terror activities.

During the recent incidents of violence, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has recorded conversations of the centre’s officials with target killers and terrorists, the sources added. They said that officials of the Cam Wing were discovered directing criminals regarding targets for killing and causing disruption as well as vandalism, looting and arson.

The ISI has recorded conversations of Cam Wing officials on separate occasions of violence and found that they directed criminals to leave a particular location or reach a specific site, they added. Sources said that the ISI has forwarded a letter to the federal government to immediately investigate the Cam Wing officials, and has recommended that the centre be handed over to the law enforcers immediately because due to these corrupt officials, the law enforcers have been unable to take action against target killers and terrorists among other criminals.

In its letter, the ISI has also expressed its reservations over the department of Community Police, more commonly known as the City Wardens, the sources added.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Community Police Department was also established by the former city nazim, and some 7,500 activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were appointed in the department without conducting any interviews to determine their eligibility.

It is also relevant to mention here that on February 28 this year, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had ordered handing over the Command and Control Centre to the Sindh Home Department, but despite the passage of over five months, no action has been taken in this regard due to the Pakistan People’s Party’s policy of reconciliation.

An SHC division bench comprising Justices Gulzar Ahmed and Imam Bux Baloch had ordered constituting a committee headed by the Sindh Special Home Secretary and Sindh Additional Inspector General of Police with Pakistan Rangers-Sindh Lieutenant Colonel and a grade-19 officer of the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) as its members to supervise the centre.

The bench had issued the orders on a constitutional petition filed by Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi President Muhammad Hussain Mehanti who sought handing over the centre to the Sindh government.

At the time of the SHC decision, Sindh Additional Advocate General Miran Muhammad Shah had assured the court on behalf of the provincial government that the centre would be run under the control of the Home Department.

Shah had said that the centre would be run under the supervision of the Home Secretary and law enforcers among others.

The court had then disposed of the petition and ordered handing over the centre to the Home Department.

The Command and Control Centre was established by the CDGK in its last tenure following the directives of the former city nazim to control the traffic problems of the city; however, according to sources, the centre has been misused by a specific political party.

They said that the law enforcers have expressed their reservations on many occasions and suggested that instead of a political party or the local government, this centre be supervised by the provincial government because the centre has been misused by a political party for its own interests.

Several terror incidents – including the 12 Rabiul Awwal, 12 May and April 9 incidents as well as the Ashura and Chehlum tragedies – shook the metropolis, but no video evidence was maintained or handed over to the law enforcers, they added.

They also said that former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfiqar Ali Mirza had publicly complained that the Command and Control Centre was being misused by a specific political party. The video clip of a recent quarrel between Mirza and a private television channel’s team was also provided by the officials of the centre to the said channel, they added.

Courtesy: →PAKISTAN TODAY