Wednesday December 13, 2017
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Religious apartheid: Hindu Pakistani soldier denied ‘shahadat’ because of his religion

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By Rukma Singh

Ashok Kumar, the Pakistani Hindu soldier who sacrificed his life for the Pakistan army (while fighting in Waziristan in 2013) was recently awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaat on March 23, 2015.

But his name was suffixed with “late” and not “Shaheed” (martyr) as used for Muslim soldiers who sacrifice their lives. The fact that Ashok died while in Pakistan is a clear evidence of his loyalty towards the country.

But why was he not called a martyr just like the Muslim soldiers?

It was because of his religious identity, the fact that he was a Hindu. But the question is, does his religion make his life any less valuable than the others?

If he didn’t think twice before dying for a Muslim nation, why did Pakistan hesitate to consider him equal to a Muslim soldier?

It is unfortunate that his life wasn’t important enough because of the age old strained relationship between India and Pakistan; Hindus and Muslims.

Discrimination against Pakistani Hindus

Reports suggest that most of the 2 million Hindus in Pakistan are compelled to pay regular sums, as a type of ransom, to extortionists and local leaders in exchange for the physical security of their families and themselves. Furthermore, they’re even required to have some kind of contact with a Muslim, as a sort of protection, so as to be able to efficiently carry out any sort of business.

Instances of discrimination between Non-Muslims in Pakistan aren’t new. The biggest evidence of the unfavorable treatment meted out to Hindus is evident from the very fact that the numbers of Hindus in Pakistan have gone down from 15-24% during the time of partition in 1947 to 1.6% presently. Thus, religious apartheid happens to be a very prevalent practice.

Religious apartheid practices 

Hindus were not allowed to join the armed forces until before 2000. This is in contrast with the country’s Christian community whose members have been serving in the army for much longer with many of them having been on senior postings.

This goes to show that the discrimination isn’t against any ‘outsider’ but specifically, and much more strongly for the Hindus.

The practice of Dhimmi

Hindu minorities living under the influence of the Taliban in Swat, Pakistan, were forced to wear red headgear such as turbans as a symbol of dhimmi. Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination.

Using school textbooks to incite hatred

A very important evidence of the religious apartheid happens to be the ‘alleged Hindu hatred’ taught in Pakistani school. It is a part of the textbook syllabus for students.

A report recently published by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad said:

“Four primary themes that emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks…are that Pakistan is for Muslims alone; Islamiat is to be forcibly taught to all the students, whatever their faith, including compulsory reading of Qu’ran; the ideology of Pakistan (sic) is to be internalised as faith, and hate be created against Hindus and India; and students are to be urged to take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.”

Further, “Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus..”

The Islamisation of textbooks began under the US-backed rule of army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who courted Islamists to support his rule. Fearing rebellion from Pakistan’s right wing polity, the State does not take up this issue so as to be on the safer side and avoid risks.

”Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security,” said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

”The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world,” read one passage from social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country’s most populated.

This inciting of hatred results in children growing up with closed minds and flawed mindsets. Teaching young kids twisted information to suit one’s political stance is an act of insensitivity and an effort to induce violent.

Unending instances of discrimination

The plight doesn’t end here.

Sandhya Das

According to a BBC Hindi report, on May 29th, 2015, Sandhya Das, a Pakistani national, was declined admission in the Peshawar University because she was a Hindu. Das had graduated from the same university.

Peshawar University

Sandhya’s family desperately needed money for the treatment of her father, who was suffering from an acute heart ailment. Even though she had the required qualifications, she was denied the job as she wasn’t a Muslim. The report also quoted human rights  activist Rakshanda Naaz as saying that the condition of Hindus living in Khyber Pakhtun area  is really bad.

Vandalism induced by religious intolerance

In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindus in Karachi were attacked and ethnically cleansed following an incident when a Hindu youth drank from a water tap near an Islamic mosque.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan came out with a report in 2010 stating that at least 25 Hindu girls are abducted in Pakistan every month.

In January 2014, in an attack on a temple, the guard was gunned down.

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Guru Gorakhnath temple at Gorgathri, Peshawar

In 2012, Unidentified men stormed the 160 years old Hindu temple of Guru Gorakhnath and Lord Shiva in PeshawarThe Idols of Shiva and Nath Gurus were destroyed, holy books are set on fire, human excreta were thrown and so on.

According to reports, the attackers burnt images and took away idols from the temple in the Gorghathri area, and fled the scene after the incident

Haroon Sarblal, a representative of the Hindu community, condemned the incident as ‘unacceptable’. He called upon the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to arrest the vandals and provide security guards for the temple.

“If the government wants the Hindu community to remain calm, it should arrest the vandals and punish them accordingly,” Sarblal told The News Agencies.

At a two-day workshop conducted by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pushpa Kumari broke down into tears as she narrated the incident when a body of a 17-year-old girl was taken out from a graveyard because she was buried in a Muslim graveyard.

Carrying a bunch of newspapers dated last week, she said, “There are five cases of sexual harassment of Hindu women in Sindh, including the gang rape of a teenager.”

With each passing day, evidences of religious apartheid are increasing. Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers. Lack of cooperation from police and administration adds insult to the injury.

With such vandalism and discrimination dotting the landscape of Pakistan, the Hindus are left looking for a home.

  • Indian

    What else can be expect from terrorist nation “Pakistan”????

  • Gurkhaxxx

    Foolish Racist Paki Muslims!!!!

  • Hassan M Farooqi

    Shaheed is a Arabic word meaning “One who testified”. When a Muslim gives his life in the name of Allah, he is called a Shaheed, meaning he gave his life as a testimony to Allah.

    The word of respect for deceased non Muslims is “Aan-jahani”, meaning person belonging to the other world.

    The English word “Late” is a secular word, and is used instead of Shaheed or Aanjahani when avoidance of religious connotation is sought, and therefore used for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Translating the Islamic term Shaheed as the secular term martyr is inaccurate, and translating “Aan-Jahani” as late is also incorrect.

    You may continue with your ignorance, but my post is for only those who are curious about linguistic truth.

    • ramki

      We Indians call “Shaheed Bhagat Singh”.

  • Indian

    What else can be expect from terrorist nation “Pakistan”????

  • Gurkhaxxx

    Foolish Racist Paki Muslims!!!!

  • Hassan M Farooqi

    Shaheed is a Arabic word meaning “One who testified”. When a Muslim gives his life in the name of Allah, he is called a Shaheed, meaning he gave his life as a testimony to Allah.

    The word of respect for deceased non Muslims is “Aan-jahani”, meaning person belonging to the other world.

    The English word “Late” is a secular word, and is used instead of Shaheed or Aanjahani when avoidance of religious connotation is sought, and therefore used for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Translating the Islamic term Shaheed as the secular term martyr is inaccurate, and translating “Aan-Jahani” as late is also incorrect.

    You may continue with your ignorance, but my post is for only those who are curious about linguistic truth.

    • ramki

      We Indians call “Shaheed Bhagat Singh”.

Next Story

Pakistan : Law Minister forced to step down, Is the notorious Islamic nation on way to collapse?

With growing influence of Islamic extremists on one hand and separatist movements on other hand, it is really a tough road ahead for Pakistan. The den of terror is on way to collapse

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Islamic Terrorism
Supporters of the extremist Tehreek-e-Labaik party Pakistan (VOA)

After few weeks of ongoing drama Pakistan government on Monday made a deal with leaders of an extremist Islamist protest movement, agreeing that Pakistan law minister would step down from his position in return for an end to violent protests that had resulted in brutal clashes and immobilised the Pakistani capital since last few weeks. The law minister, Zahid Hamid, whom protesters had accused of blasphemy, resigned as part of negotiations overseen by Pakistan’s military. Law Minister Zahid Hamid had been accused by clerics of committing blasphemy due to a change in the wording of an oath taken by parliamentarians. The extremists, led by Rizvi, believed the change in wording as representing a softening of the state’s position against members of the Ahmadi sect, who are not permitted to identify themselves as Muslims in Pakistan. Like many times in past once again in Pakistan the government surrendered to the extremists. A dozen of people were killed and around 250 people were wounded in clashes between protestors and security forces.

“On the assurance of the Chief of Army Staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” Muslim extremist and protest leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi representing radical “Tehreek-e-Labaik” told a crowd of around 2,500 demonstrators in Islamabad on Monday.

Islamic Extremists
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party (VOA)

This is not the first time when Islamic extremists have highjacked the government in Pakistan. Not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago. The political situation in Pakistan has never been a swift ride ever since 1947, as four times democratic governments were thrown away by military dictators, one prime minister was killed while another one was hanged by judiciary, many were sent home by presidents and two were dismissed by the Supreme Court, the latest been Nawaz Sharif.

The recent developments have again proved that Pakistan’s democratically elected government has no authority, it is the islamic extremists who hold the jar of power dictating government what to do and what not to do. Few days back only, a judicial panel ordered the release of Islamic militant leader Hafiz Saeed who was the mastermind of deadly Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 from house arrest. Hafiz Saeed have a huge following and popularity in Pakistan, and was to take up leadership of a political party which he planned to start. The matter of concern is future of Pakistan with such terrorists penetrating in power corridors.

With growing extremism on one side, separatist movements are also growing in Pakistan. Baloch freedom movement is gaining pace and a large section of Pashtun population are also demanding an independent Pashtunistan. There are several similarities between the Pakistani Army committing hideous crimes in Bangladesh (what was then East Pakistan) and Balochistan & Pashtunistan. Mass killings, the rape of women, laying human habitations to waste, targeted assassinations – Bangladesh saw it all during its Liberation War of 1971. Balochistan and Pashtunistan continues to witness these horrors. Religious minorities are also often targeted including the Shia and Ahmadi muslim population.

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With growing Wahhabism on one hand and separatist movements on another hand its really a tough job for Pakistan’s government to keep the country intact. Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. [bctt tweet=”Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. The snake you raise in your backyard is more likely to bite you before it bite your neighbour.”] In such grave situations, civil society of Pakistan must ponder over the state of affairs and should reject terrorism against India, only then a progressive Pakistan can exist. A progressive and stable Pakistan is equally important for neighbouring countries.

–  by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

2 responses to “Pakistan : Law Minister forced to step down, Is the notorious Islamic nation on way to collapse?”

  1. Good analysis, Pakistan must look within and stop religious extremists before they take control of whole nation.

  2. That is a very good and deep analysis. Pakistan is imploding from inside, religious extremist groups have the upper hand while ethnic suppression is igniting separatism. Ethnic Pashtun and Baluch nationalism should be empowered to put an end to the terror-producing machinery in Pakistan that means total collapse of Pakistani dysfunctional, apartheid and panjabi fascist failed state.

Next Story

Analysts in USA and India Not surprised by Release of Hafiz Saeed by Pakistan

While the news of Saeed’s release has caught worldwide attention, some US experts on South Asian affairs say Pakistan's move was bound to happen - sooner or later.

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Hafiz Saeed has been released from jail by Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistan's Jamaat-ud-Dawa group waves to supporters at a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Nov. 24, 2017. VOA

Anti-terrorism analysts in Washington and New Delhi are critical of Pakistan’s decision to release a man accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 160, but some say they are not surprised by the move. U.S. officials say Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist.

He was set free by Pakistani authorities after 11 months of house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore on Friday. Earlier last week, a judicial panel of Lahore High Court said there was not enough evidence to continue Saeed’s detention.

Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan
Supporters of Hafiz Saeed, head of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, shower his car with rose petals as he leaves a court in Lahore, Pakistan, Nov. 21, 2017. VOA

While the news of Saeed’s release has caught worldwide attention, some experts on South Asian affairs say Pakistan’s move was bound to happen – sooner or later. “I see Saeed’s release as totally unsurprising. This is a story that’s played out multiple times in recent history: He is put under house arrest only to be released,” Michael Kugelman, a Washington-based South Asian analyst associated with the Woodrow Wilson Center told VOA.

“Pakistani legal authorities had said all along that there was not sufficient evidence to keep him detained, so it was just a matter of time before he was released,” Kugelman added.

Hafiz Saeed is the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa group (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat foundation (FIF), both of which have been declared terrorist organizations by the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is widely believed to be the front of Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) which was included into the U.N.’s terrorist groups list in 2005.

US ‘deeply concerned’

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Saeed should be arrested and charged for his crimes. “The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from the house arrest in Pakistan. LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens,” Nauert said.

Mumbai Terror Attack
FILE – People hold a candlelight vigil for the victims of a terrorist attack, in Mumbai, India, Nov. 29, 2008. The attack took a total of 160 lives. VOA

India, which alleges Saeed was mastermind of Mumbai carnage in 2008, has also reacted strongly to his release. India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that a “self-confessed and U.N.-proscribed terrorist was being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda.”

Some political analysts in India also seem to be agitated by Saeed’s release and say it will only further complicate the already strained relations between the two rival nations.

“His release only reinforces the popular belief in India that the Pakistani establishment is either not interested or it’s incapable of putting Saeed on trial in the Mumbai case,” Vinod Sharma, Delhi based political editor of the Hindustan Times told VOA. “In either case it increases the trust deficit between the two countries.”

Insufficient evidence, says Pakistan

Lawmakers in Pakistan dismiss the allegations and maintain India and the U.S. provided insufficient evidence to put Hafiz Saeed behind bars or declare him a terrorist.

“The criticism by the United States is wrong and India’s anger makes no sense as Pakistan is a democratic country where courts are powerful and work with full authority,” Abdul Qayyum, a prominent member of the ruling party PML-N told VOA. “Until and unless there is solid evidence against Hafiz Saeed, how can you arrest or punish him? We have strict rules for terrorists and we do not spare them at any cost,” Qayyum added.

Some experts on South Asian affairs point out that Hafiz Saeed’s release orders came out within days after the U.S. Congress removed a provision from the National Defense Authorization Act 2018 that delinks Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) from the Haqqani Network to reimburse Pakistan for its cooperation in the war on terror.

Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington called the amendment an “unfortunate move.” “It will give Pakistan a way to differentiate between good and bad terrorists and they will make less effort to satisfy the United States against the war on terror,” Tellis told VOA.

Aman Azhar of VOA’s Urdu Service contributed to this report.

Next Story

Re-arrest Hafiz Saeed: USA tells Paksitan

Hafiz Saeed was designated a terrorist by the U.S. Justice Department, which has a $10 million reward for his capture or killing. He was released from house arrest before dawn Friday. After being freed, Hafiz has vowed to fight for Kashmir.

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Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistani religious party, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, gestures outside a court in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. A Pakistani court has rejected the government’s plea to extend for three months the house arrest of the former leader of a banned militant group allegedly linked to 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

The United States has issued a statement condemning the release of Hafiz Saeed by Pakistan authorities, the mastermind of Mumbai terrorist attacks and has asked that he be rearrested and charged for his crimes.

Pakistani authorities have released a U.S.-wanted militant cleric who allegedly masterminded the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed 168 people.

On Wednesday, a court in Pakistan rejected the government’s plea to extend the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed for three months and ordered his release, saying the government had failed to substantiate the charges of terrorism.

Saeed was designated a terrorist by the U.S. Justice Department, which has a $10 million reward for his capture or killing. He was released from house arrest before dawn Friday.

Saeed ran the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization, believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that was behind the attack in Mumbai, India.

Pakistan put Saeed and four of his aides under house arrest in Lahore in January following increased U.S. pressure on Islamabad to rein in militant groups. Saeed’s aides were released earlier.

On Thursday, India condemned the decision of the Pakistani court to release Saeed from house arrest.