Minorities in Pakistan: A life under siege

NEW DELHI: The condition of minorities is worsening in Pakistan and their numbers are declining by the day. Minorities in Pakistan are severely charged on minor allegations, leading to punishments like the death penalty. Blasphemy laws, in most cases, are used to fulfill a personal vendetta. Victims are immediately presumed guilty, even without proper investigation and holding the trial under jury.

This was the theme at a meet organised on Friday close on the heels of meet in Geneva where India questioned Pakistan’s treatment of minorities. The speakers included experts who have studied situation of minorities in Pakistan — Dr. Omendra Ratnu, ENT Surgeon and Founder, Nimittekam; Amanjeet Singh, President, Sikh Youth of Jammu and Kashmir; and Dharmendra Singh Rataul, Education Management Expert with Khalsa College, Amritsar.

Earlier on Tuesday India had hit out at Islamabad at a UN session over human rights violation, terrorism activities and treatment of minorities In Pakistan, saying that the country should practice tolerance towards their minorities and “good neighbourliness” so that the South Asian region sees “eternal peace”.

Dharmendra Singh Rataul highlighted the severity of the overbroad blasphemy laws of Pakistan, he said that such laws do not exist even in the Arab world. He further argued that migration of minorities from Pakistan has been a major result of persecution and quoted the example of the Pakistani Ahmadiyya community settling down in Punjab.

Women from the minority community are the most vulnerable group in Pakistan. Forced abductions, rapes, forced conversions, forced marriages have become trends. Instead of checking the persecution of minorities, the Pakistan government has rather chosen not to speak.

Dr. Ratnu talked about his grassroots initiatives towards the Hindu minorities of Pakistan. His organisation acts as an interface between Pakistani minorities and India. To date, the organisation has been able to get 2000 Indian citizenships to Pakistani minorities and thanked the Ministry of Home Affairs to authorise DCs of Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer to recently entitle rights to grant citizenship to Pakistani minorities.

Young Sikh right activist Amanjeet Singh began by mentioning the slogan of Pakistani tribal raiders during 1947-48 massacre of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs which said “Muslim ka Ghar, Hindu ka Zar, and Sikh ka Sir”, meaning let us take shelter at Muslim houses, burn down houses of Hindus, and behead Sikhs. He said that more than 30,000-35,000 Sikhs were massacred in Kashmir and cities of Mirpur and Muzafarrabad were cleansed off the Sikh population.

He recalled that let not the Sikh community forget the plight of Gurudwara Naluchi Sahib in PoK in which 2,000 Sikhs were set on fire. Attacking Khalistani forces, he said that the international Sikh diaspora should think that how can Imran Khan, who has the blood of Sikhs on hand, could work for the welfare of Sikhs? Pakistan is doing this just for the sake of propaganda and money.

Last Tuesday exercising India’s Right to Reply at the 43rd session of UNHRC in Geneva, Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary from the Indian session, said, “It is very unfortunate, however, not unexpected from the deep state of Pakistan, which is continuing incessant abuse of its membership of this august Council for propagating an illegal, immoral and inhuman territorial ambition.”

“However, what we are witnessing in Pakistan is unabated torture, maiming and systematic persecution of religious minorities. The attacks on a Hindu funeral procession and a Christian church couple of days ago in Sindh and Punjab provinces, respectively, portray the horrific plight of various minorities in Pakistan,” he said.

“This epicentre of global terrorism very irresponsibly harps on self-determination of the already democratic Jammu and Kashmir, but very conveniently ignores that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) very explicitly state that the principle of self-determination must not be used as a garb to promote activities detrimental to the territorial integrity and political unity of Member States in violation of the UN Charter,” he said.

“I would ask Pakistani delegation to properly understand Part I, Para 17 of the VDPA on terrorism, before pretending to be a promoter of Human Rights, while most grisly of the human rights violators i.e. terrorists breed under its nose,” added Aryan.

He urged Pakistan to practice tolerance towards its minorities.

“I would once again invoke VDPA to ask Pakistan to abjure its territorial ambition which is grossly violative of all human rights. Instead, they should practice tolerance towards their minorities and good neighbourliness towards us so that the South Asian region sees eternal peace the absence of which can mostly be attributed to Pakistani deep state,” he said.

The Indian diplomat further pointed out that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has openly acknowledged the support and inter-operational linkages between their state machinery and the UN-proscribed terrorist organisations.

“As the biggest victim of the cross-border terrorism emanating from this pernicious cradle of terrorism, we would like to inform this Council that Pakistan is a country whose former President and Prime Ministers including the incumbent one have openly acknowledged the support and inter-operational linkages between their state machinery and the UN-proscribed terrorist organisations,” he said.

Aryan said that Jammu and Kashmir has always been and will continue to be a part of India. “Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and will continue to be an integral part of India and Pakistan should cease to covet it”.

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