By Khaled Ahmed
The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence
A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.
According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.
Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.
The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.