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Hindu minorities continue to face discrimination in Pakistan

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By Nithin Sridhar

Hindu activists in Pakistan have accused the Khyber Pakthunkhwa government of practicing discrimination against Hindu minorities. According to a news report published on October 11, the members from All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movements (APHRM) protested against the alleged exclusion of Hindus from the benefits of the newly enacted RTI act.

If the allegations turn out to be true, it would add yet another incident to the long list of discriminatory actions of the Pakistani government towards Hindu minorities.

www.hafsite.org
www.hafsite.org

Hindus in Pakistan have suffered humongous loses right from the days when Pakistan was newly created. Hindus and Sikhs were not only massacred during the riots that accompanied the partition of India in 1947, but a large number of them were also forced to migrate into India leaving behind their home and property.

As a result, the percentage of Hindus in the then West Pakistan underwent drastic reduction within four years after Partition from 15% in 1947 to 2% in 1951. In Karachi alone, the population of Hindus decreased from 51% to 2%, whereas Muslim population increased from 42% to 96% during those four years after Partition. This clearly establishes a mass exodus of Hindus from Pakistan into India in the years following Partition.

But, the hardships of the Hindus who stayed back in Pakistan have continued to the present. They face discrimination in almost every aspect of social life, be it education, jobs, or marriage. Moreover, they are frequently exposed to various forms of oppression- violence, abduction, forceful conversions, etc.

Consider the case of marriages. Pakistan is yet to legally recognize Hindu marriages. The Hindu marriage Bill, which has been tabled multiple times, is yet to be adopted even after 69 years of Pakistan coming into existence. Just this year, in July, the government again deferred the proposed Hindu marriage bill. Previously it was tabled in 2008, 2011, and 2012 and each time it failed to get consent.

The marriage bill is very vital for Hindus in Pakistan because without it they are being exposed to various kinds of socioeconomic discrimination in the society. Hindu women are especially at a disadvantage because without any evidence to prove their marriage, they are exposed to physical exploitation, forceful marriages, and conversions. Further, Hindu women face various difficulties be it in booking a hotel room, getting official documents like National identity cards, or on inheriting husband’s property after the husband’s death.

www.hinduexistence.org
www.hinduexistence.org

Regarding the condition of Hindu women in Pakistan, Amritsar-based activist and historian SurinderKochchar says: “They are abducted, raped, and forcibly converted after a forced marriage. They never get justice as neither their families, nor they, can prove that they were married. They also cannot apply for a divorce nor get alimony or remarry as they do not possess any marriage certificates,” as quoted in the Daily Mail.

US Commission on the International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report for 2015 describes Pakistan as representing‘one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom.’ It further describes Pakistan’s legal environment as being ‘particularly repressive due to its religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, including its blasphemy laws.’

The Hindu American Foundation’s report on Human Rights of Hindus in South Asia for the year 2014-2015 quotes a report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace that revealed that around 76% of minority women in Pakistan reported that they were sexually harassed. The HAF report further quotes various NGO’s that estimate that around 1000 Hindu and Christian girls are abducted and forcefully converted to Islam every year. According to another estimate, as many as 20-25 Hindu girls are abducted and converted to Islam every month.

This continued kidnapping and eventual conversion of Hindu women into Islam was also noted by the USCIRF 2014-15 report that stated: “Allegations of kidnappings of Hindu women, followed by forced conversions to Islam and forced marriages to Muslim men, continued to rise throughout 2014.”

Blasphemy laws are another concern for Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan. Defiling of Quran and/or the name of Prophet are considered as Blasphemous. Further, misuse of epitaphs reserved for holy personages are also considered blasphemous. Yet, there is a lack of clarity on what actions exactly constitute as defiling. The punishment for blasphemy is generally a life imprisonment or death.

The UNSCIRF 2014-15 report calls these laws as ‘problematic’ and ‘against human rights protections’. It further notes that: “There is no clear definition of blasphemy, which empowers the accuser to decide if a blasphemous act has occurred. No proof of intent is required, nor must evidence be presented after allegations are made.

Hence, these laws are highly vague and open for misuse especially against religious minorities. A report by Jinnah Institute states: “Pakistan’s blasphemy laws disproportionately affect Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadis. Hindus have been arrested and abused in recent years due to their religious identity.”

Education is yet another area of concern. The school curriculum is not only factually incorrect at many places but is also highly biased towards religious minorities. A USCIRF’s 2011 study revealed both private owned madrassas and state run public schools ‘devalue religious minorities’ in classroom teaching as well as in textbook contents.

The HAF report quotes a report from 2012-2013 study of textbooks used in Pakistan that revealed that at least 55 chapters from 22 textbooks used in Sindh and Punjab region used discriminatory language against minorities. The HAF report states that: “Hindus have particularly been singled out for criticism in the textbooks, with negative depictions of Hindus pervasive through both“historical distortions and the framing of concepts through religious language that promotes the superiority of Islam over Hinduism.”

This was reiterated in an older report of USCIRF quoted in Dawn newspaper that states:“Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam, whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu.”

Employment condition of Hindus is no better as well. Religious minorities, including Hindus are mostly confined a low wage, menial employment. A Minority Right’s Group report quotes Asian Human Right’s Commission, according to which a large portion of Hindu women in Pakistan’s cities are employed as scavengers or as sanitary workers. They have very low wages and are without any basic labor protections.

Further, the menace of bonded labor also affects the Hindu community in Pakistan. According to one estimate, there are between three and eight million bonded labors in Pakistan. And poor Hindus, especially Hindus of Scheduled Castes are especially vulnerable to this. The HAF report states: “This modern day form of slavery, which disproportionately impacts poor Hindus, operates on a debt bondage system and is characterized by patterns of abuse, detention, and exploitation. Bonded laborers work in a number of sectors, such as agriculture, brick-kilns, mining, and domestic households.”

The marginalization extends to politics and civil services as well. The representation of Hindus in the provincial legislatures as well as in government services is marginal. According to HAF only 0.21% of the federal civil servants are from Hindu community. Further, out of 342 seats in the National Assembly, only 10 are reserved for minorities.

Another issue that Hindus face in Pakistan is the lack of adequate place of worship. A 2014 survey had indicated that out of 428 places of worship for Hindus, only 20 were operational. The remaining places were leased to residential or commercial purposes by the Evacuee Trust Properties Board(ETPB) that was supposed to manage these properties. Further, there are frequent attacks on Hindu holy places and on the pilgrims who visit them. After Babri masjid was destroyed in India, around 30 temples were attacked in Pakistan.

Therefore, there is a sustained and systematic marginalization, discrimination, exploitation, and persecution of Hindu minorities in Pakistan. Moreover, there is a lack of implementation of the few legal protections given to the religious minorities that further exposes Hindu minorities to exploitation.

Though the Pakistan’s constitution provides few rights and protections to religious minorities, they are often either misinterpreted or simply ignored while dealing with issues concerning minorities. The situation is further complicated by some police and law enforcing agents who continuously engage in activities that threaten the security of religious minorities.

As a result, every year, thousands of Pakistani Hindus migrate to India on the pretext of visiting relatives or tourism and refuse to go back. Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), revealed in the PakistanNational Assembly, in 2014, that every year around 5000 Hindus were migrating to India.

www.firstpost.com
www.firstpost.com

The dilemma in which most Pakistani Hindus live can be best summed up in the words of Kapil Dev, a Human Rights activist, who wrote in the Dawn newspaper thus: “That question has always perplexed my mind. Why are we treated as second-class citizens by the state and why are we discriminated in every walk of life just because we are Hindus?

“I can safely say this on behalf of my community that we often feel like citizens of “no man’s land” because here in Pakistan we are treated as Indians and those of us who migrate to India are called Pakistanis. For our love and patriotism for Pakistan, right-wing Indians call us ISI agents, while here just for being Hindu, we are labeled agents of RAW. Where should we go?

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. In addition to all above you have n ever heard of Temple demolition like it happened for Babri Mosque, you would have never heard that people were killed by mob just because they were practicing their religion as it happened for when a person was lynched due to rumors about cow slaughter, descrimination is not only for Muslims but also for Sikhs and other low castes hindus

    • Sorry to disappoint you but here’s some fact since you do not seem to have done your homework (more easily accessible on Wikipedia and Google):

      “Over 50 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered before their respective trials were over, and prominent figures who opposed blasphemy laws (Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities) have been assassinated. Since 1990, 62 people have been murdered as a result of blasphemy allegations.”

      Worse than Dadri lynching, isn’t it?

    • I don’t think , you are trying to convey something . Sorry , but you are just trying to give an explanation . Religious intolerance in Pakistan due to Islamic fundamentalists is known to whole world so please don’t try to cover up .

  2. I need platform where I can raise the voice of Minorities in Pakistan, I need platform where I can discuss this issue without any fear, I need platform where I can show the real images which are facing by Hindus in Pakistan. Where I stand I doesn’t know. Are we slavers? Undoubtedly, I love Pakistan because We are basically from Sindh Region and My grand Father Sobho Gianchandani always fought for rights in Pakistan. There isn’t liberty sometimes during accompany of different friends, they start arguments regarding the religious based, I feel ashamed, I believe in Humanity and Humanity is my religion. We should respect to different religions.

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Hindu American Foundation Celebrates Hindu Heritage by Commemorating Awareness and Appreciation Month

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Hindu American Foundation
The essence of bhakti is devotion to a personal form of the Divine. HAF

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a non-profit advocacy organization for the Hindu American community is celebrating October as Hindu American Awareness and Appreciation month.

Hindu American Foundation has been officially recognized by the state of California. But you don’t have to live in California to celebrate our heritage!

Join us this year in using this unique opportunity to educate others about Hindu teachings and traditions, including the true meaning of yoga in order to ensure the well-being of for all people around the world.

Hindu Awareness & Appreciation Month:

  • Recognizes contributions of Hindu culture and spirituality to American life.
  • Allows our children to feel proud of their Hindu identity as Americans.
  • Allows the broader American society to understand and appreciate Hindu Americans and Hindu traditions.
  • Promotes diversity and pluralism

When most people say they do yoga, what they’re really talking about is asana. But is just one of the eight limbs of yoga as explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. Of course, Yoga is so much more, and no one knows this better than Hindus around the world.

For Hindu American Awareness and Appreciation Month, HAF invites you to participate in all four paths of yoga to share the broader meaning of yoga and demonstrate the power yoga has to ensure the wellbeing of all people and the planet.

For each of these, please share what you’re doing on social media, using the hashtags #HinduAmericans, #HAAAM, #karmayoga, #bhaktiyoga, #rajayoga, #jnanayoga, #yogabeyondasana, and be sure to tag HAF @HinduAmerican

Yoga is so much more, and no one knows this better than Hindus around the world. HAF

10/1-10/8: Bhakti Yoga

The path of love: The essence of bhakti is devotion to a personal form of the Divine. It opens up opportunities for every individual to develop a love for the Divine, and ultimately recognize the Divine in everything and everyone. This week practice bhakti yoga by:

  • Learning to sing a new bhajan or committing to singing a favorite every day this week with your family.
  • Visiting your local temple and reading a story about a presiding deity or the story of great devotees such as Prahlad, Akka Mahadevi, or Meerabai as a family.
  • Volunteering at or donating to a local animal shelter recognizing that all of Creation shares the same divine spark and is thus deserving of love and dignity

10/9-10/15: Karma Yoga

The path of work: Performing selfless service, doing work without expectation of reward and holding the Divine in your mind and heart, is the essence of karma yoga. This week practice karma yoga by:

  • Cleaning up trash at a local park, playground, or beach.
  • Participating in food distribution for the needy or donating to a food bank in your community.
  • Running an errand or making a meal for someone who’s elderly or not in the best of health or at the hospital.

10/16-10/22: Jnana Yoga

The path of knowledge: In jnana yoga ‘knowledge’ isn’t intellectual knowledge or accumulation of facts, but rather knowing the Divine, distinguishing between what is transitory and what is permanent in existence, and ultimately seeing the sameness or shared essence between our individuals selves and the Divine. This week practice jnana yoga by:

  • Reading and discussing as a family the practical applications of teachings of Chapters 2 and 3 of the Gita.
  • Volunteering to teach about Diwali in your child’s school.
  • Visiting HAF’s Hinduism 101: Learning About Hinduism Inside and Out and reviewing 2 or 3 modules of your choice and discussing them with your school-aged children to better equip them to respond to errors in their school textbooks

10/23-10/31: Raja Yoga

The path of meditation: Here is where ‘yoga’ as the word is most commonly used resides. Remember that raja yoga uses the physical to transcend the physical. Asana, or poses, are an important part of the path, not the ultimate goal of yoga, which is samadhi, or union with the Divine. This week practice raja yoga by:

  • Commit to starting your day with five Surya namaskar and observe the effect on your breathing, posture, stamina, and ability to manage stress.
  • Practicing the yama of ahimsa by going vegetarian for the week. If you already follow a vegetarian diet, consider ahimsa of thought by becoming mindful of how you react and respond to daily stressors such as aggressive drivers, a pushy colleague, or the demands of family members.
  • Learning pranayama or committing to doing pranayama for at least 5 minutes every day this week and observing the effects on your stress level or stamina.

Please share this with you family and in your network, directing them to the HAF site: October is Hindu American Appreciation and Awareness Month. (HAF)

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Abducted and Converted : 20 Year Old Hindu Girl Arti Kumari Sharma Falls Victim to Jihadis in Sindh, Pakistan

Arti’s case is not the first of its kind. Hundreds of Hindu girls are being kidnapped, raped and converted every month

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Hundreds of Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam annually. (representative image) Pixabay

Washington, DC, September 12, 2017 — The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has called for the immediate release of Arti Kumari Sharma, a 20 year-old Hindu woman who was kidnapped at gunpoint this past Saturday near her home in Khairpur District in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.

Arti’s uncle, Kishwar Sharma, a Houston resident and native of Pakistan, recently escaped religious persecution in Pakistan to immigrate to the US.

“I am deeply distraught to find out my niece was kidnapped at gunpoint near her house,” said Sharma. “Arti is engaged to be married in November and is the second girl to be kidnapped in my family.”

Arti, a teacher at Qasim Model School, was abducted on her way home by a Muslim landlord, Ammer Wassan, taken to a local mosque where she was forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will to a man named Amir Bux. She was also reportedly coerced into signing an affidavit claiming that she married Bux and converted out of her own free will.

Despite her family filing a First Information Report with local police, Arti has not been allowed to return home and will be brought before the Sindh High Court on September 12.

Arti Kumari
Arti Kumari Sharma. Twiter

“Arti’s basic civil rights and freedom have been flagrantly violated, in contradiction of Pakistani law and international human rights law,” said Rishi Bhutada, HAF Board Member and Houston resident. “We urge the Sindh High Court to order the immediate release and safe return of Arti to her family.”

Many NGOs and human rights groups, including Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, have estimated that more than 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam annually. The courts and legal system in Pakistan are often complicit in sanctioning this practice by accepting false documents and statements obtained through force, threats, or coercion.

The Foundation has extensively documented this trend and other human rights violations against Pakistani Hindus in its annual human rights report, Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights, 2017.

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Hindu American Foundation (HAF) Releases Online Forms for Second Bullying Survey of Hindu American Youth

In this first edition, it was unfortunate to find out that half of the respondents to the survey felt socially outcasted because of their religious background

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Hindu American Youth
Hindu American Foundation. Facebook
  • The Hindu American Foundation from the US aims to inform the society about Hinduism
  • The Foundation is responsible for various research and reports on Hindus all over the world
  • The website of the foundation has released forms for further survey of bullying of Hindu American Youth

New Delhi, August 18, 2017:  nonprofit organization for Hindu community in America, Hindu American Foundation (HAF) works for the well-being of Hindus and spread the Hindu philosophy.

Earlier this year, the Hindu American Foundation had published a report titled ‘Hindus in South Asia and Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2017’. The report was an extensive research work that enlisted the numerous incidents of Human Rights violations against Hindus in various countries.

Also Read: 2017 Hindu Human Rights Report Released by Hindu American Foundation (HAF): Here is What you Need to Know!

Now the HAF is coming out with its second survey of Hindu American youth being bullied in American schools. To reach out to the masses and get the widest survey outreach, their website has released a form. The responses from these forms will be compiled and reported. The second survey will be published next year.

The deadline for the form is until 1st December 2017. The form can be accessed here.

Last year the foundation came out with its first survey report of Hindu American youth being bullied. The survey was titled ‘Classroom Subjected: Bullying and Bias against Hindu Students in American Schools’ which had concluded that Hindu American students continue to be bullied and feel socially ostracized for their religious beliefs.”

In this first edition, it was unfortunate to find out that half of the respondents to the survey felt socially outcasted because of their religious background.

But the report’s objectives were successful. It was a recommended resource at the state as well as federal level.

Bullying is one of the biggest social evils that face our society. With this survey, HAF aims to highlight and combat bullying of the minority on the basis of their religion.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


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