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Who gets to certify “caste based” discrimination?

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Hint: It is not the forward community.

I moved this up as a separate article since this is something I feel very strongly about. The Pakistani forward community (as evidenced from BP members) has sworn hand on heart that “caste based discrimination” does not exist in Pakistan. This is because they say so, thus it must be the truth. The reality it seems is something else altogether.

Ms. Kalavanti Raja of Sindh-Pakistan, the active member of Sindhiyani Tahreek presented the case of Pakistani Dalits in International Consultation Meeting of IDSN in Nepal which got a huge importance and space in international IDSN Publication as detailed below.

Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) has been instrumental in raising public awareness of caste discrimination in Pakistan in 2011 and creating a stir in the media. Media reports on caste discrimination have included issues such as bonded labour, untouchability, kidnapping and forced conversions of Dalits.

Media have also reported widely on discrimination in flood relief work in Pakistan following new monsoon rains, causing one of recent history’s worst disasters. Dalit communities were denied access to relief camps because of their caste and were forced to live under the open sky. The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardai, has spoken out against this discrimination against Dalits in the on-going flood relief work saying that any discrimination in extending rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to anyone on the basis of caste is unacceptable. Nonetheless the discrimination continued throughout 2011. PDSN has worked to support Dalit victims of the flooding and bring their plight to the attention of authorities, International NGOs and agencies involved in relief operations.

2011 also saw an increased visibility of Dalit women in Pakistan and Ms. Kalavanti Raja joined PDSN as Coordinator of the women’s wing of the network. Ms. Raja participated in several events, including the Dalit Women’s conference in Kathmandu, a South Asian Dalit conference in Bangladesh, and the IDSN International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination and council meeting in Nepal, where PDSN Coordinators also took part. She spoke at several events and monitored Pakistani media attention to the issue of caste discrimination, with regular updates to IDSN on the situation.

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