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Welcome move: Pak, B’desh minority immigrants find home in India

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By Nithin Sridhar

The Modi government has recently taken a decision to exempt persecuted minority refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh from relevant provisions that govern their entry and stay in India. These provisions include rules made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The exemption ordered by the government will allow the persecuted refugees to stay in India even after the expiry of their Visa. This will help minority refugees belonging to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, and Christian community who are fleeing Pakistan and Bangladesh because of religious persecution.

The immense relief that the recent decision may provide to these persecuted refugees can only be understood by looking at the magnitude of religious persecution that continues to take place in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Status of Minorities in Pakistan

The Hindu population in Pakistan stood at roughly 15% after partition in 1947 and got reduced to just 2% by 1951. In 1998, the Hindu share stood at 1.6%. Hence, within four years between 1947 and 1951, most of the Hindus in Pakistan either migrated to India or were killed in the genocide that followed the partition.

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The tiny portion of Hindu population that survived the genocide has continued to face persecution and harassment especially after Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq came to power in Pakistan. Hindus are not the only minorities who have faced persecution. Christians in Pakistan have also faced a similar discrimination and harassment.

Dr. Iftikhar H. Malik in his ‘Religious Minorities in Pakistan’ report states: “Physical attacks, social stigmatization, psychological insecurity, forced conversions, and continued institutional degradation characterise the position of religious minorities in Pakistan.”

He further says that religious hatred is also used to forcefully acquire properties belonging to minorities such as properties housing temples, churches etc.

He adds: “Aside from religious feuds and socio-cultural/economic deprivation, the official policies of appeasement and the emphasis on religious uniformity have allocated second or even third-class citizenship to millions of Pakistanis.”

Education is another sector that is hostile to the minorities. The curriculum taught in not only the madrassas but also in public schools promotes hostility towards non-Muslims. The blasphemy law is another tool that has been used to target non-Muslims.

Many churches and temples have also been attacked and destroyed. In one incident, after torn pages of Quran were strewn around, 13 churches and 700 households were destroyed by a 10,000 strong Muslim mob.

In his 2009 article, Amir Mir says, “Of the 300 Hindu temples that Pakistan inherited in 1947 at the time of partition, hardly three dozen have managed to survive, many of whom are in ruins and are set to disappear with the passage of time if due attention is not paid to their maintenance.”

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He further points out that, at least 200 Hindu temples were destroyed in Pakistan after the unused Babri Masjid was razed in India.

He sums up the condition of Hindus in Pakistan thus: “Together with the apathy of the general public, the Hindus of Pakistan remain a forgotten and voiceless people who have to live a low-profile existence and have to put up with many insults to their honor and dignity, without any safeguard. The Pakistani authorities rarely intervene to help their Hindu nationals, despite the fact that there are frequent reports of the kidnapping of Hindu women and children and looting of Hindu property, besides other forms of discrimination and persecution.”

Regarding the condition of Christians in Pakistan, a report by Jinnah Institute describes them as being “on the frontline of the persecution and violence against minority communities. From interviews conducted with Christians from a variety of professions and ages, it is clear that many feel they are treated as second-class citizens and discriminated against in all aspects of life.”

Therefore, there is a systematic and persistent persecution of various religious minorities in Pakistan. Apart from violence, kidnapping, and forceful marriages of minority girls, minorities in Pakistan are also subjected to legal discrimination, economic exploitation, and social prejudice.

Status of Minorities in Bangladesh

The condition of minorities in Bangladesh is no better. Before Bangladesh was born in 1971, it was called “East Pakistan.”

In the years that followed the formation of India and Pakistan, East Pakistan faced complete discrimination from its western counterpart. As a result, there was a rebellion in East Pakistan against its western masters.

The Pakistani army, which had been under the control of West Pakistan, tried to crush the rebellion by adopting a genocidal campaign against the ethnic Bengalis.

Thousands of Hindu Bengalis were killed and a large number of ethnic Bengalis, most of whom were Hindus were forced to flee from East Pakistan. One report puts the number of ethnic Bengalis who fled to India at 10 million.

But, the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Bangladesh was not limited to 1971. Instead, it had been going on for last seven decades. The Hindu population in Bangladesh area in 1947 was around 31% which got reduced to around 19% by 1961, to around 14% by 1974 and currently stands at around 9%.

According to an estimate by Professor Abul Barkat, around 8.1 million Hindus went missing from Bangladesh from 1964 to 2000– around 600 Hindus per day. A large portion of this missing population has invariably come to India as persecuted refugees.

The minorities in Bangladesh, especially the Hindus, face large-scale discrimination and persecution. The properties of the minorities are grabbed, their places of worship are razed and various forms of violence and sexual exploitation are imposed on them.

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Md. Rajib Hasnat Shakil in his report on the persecution of minorities in Bangladesh says: “An overwhelming 98.68% of the rape victims are minority, and rapists happen to be from the cadres of the ruling parties. Nearly 200 Hindu women were gang raped in Char Fashion, Bhola, in one night at a single spot. The police do not allow the minorities to press charges against the rapists, and if they insist, they are given a run around for a few days so the evidence of rape disappears, and then, the police officers themselves persecute them.”

According to a 2014 human rights report, at least 1699 temples have been destroyed in Bangladesh during 2013 and 2014. The recent killings of the atheist bloggers are well-known. But, what is not well known is that around 302 minorities have been killed and another 2900 have been physically assaulted during 2013 and 2014. Also, around 5000 families have been displaced from their lands during the same period.

These clearly depict a very disturbing picture of the condition of minorities in Bangladesh. They face persecution and discrimination in all aspects of life- political, economic, social, and religious. They receive support neither from the government nor from the society.

In the face of such life-threatening situations many minorities from both Pakistan and Bangladesh are forced to flee to India with the hope of survival and a better life. Many Hindus from Pakistan have come to India on a tourist visa but have refused to go back. According to one estimate, there are around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are living in India.

Therefore, the present decision by the Modi government will provide relief to large number of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and other persecuted minorities who have fled from Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a humanitarian step taken in the right direction and the government must be congratulated for it.

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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.

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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.

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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.