By: Syed Shahzaib Haider
The religious discrimination was initiated from the very beginning if I being honest to my readers. The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens of Pakistan. These rights include equality of status and opportunity, social, economic and political freedoms, and freedom of expression, belief, faith, worship and association. Pakistan is also home to several religious minorities, such as Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs and many more.
Having said that, the situation for many religious communities in Pakistan has worsened over the past few decades. Pakistani religious minorities remain disenfranchised in society and are not fully included in the political life of the country; in fact, the situation for minorities continues to worsen.
Pakistan adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR, and is signatory to several international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This is the obligatory duty of as per international law, Pakistan should be enforcing the right to freedom of religious expression more dedicatedly, to ensure that minorities remain equal citizens. But unfortunately, we fail to develop such comforts for the minorities instead Pakistani religious minorities still think of themselves as second citizens in their own country. This oppression has made it increasingly difficult for people of religious minorities to live safely and fully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and belief.
Our constitution echoes Jinnah’s vision and fundamental rights as in his first address to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947, special attention was given to the minorities in his words: “You are free; you are to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State?18 He further said, -Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State”.
Presently almost everything is not happening according to the constitution of Pakistan. In today’s Pakistan, religious minorities live in fear of discrimination and persecution by violent mobs, which are rarely held accountable. They often also face discrimination and unfair treatment by state institutions. Forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls leaves families and communities insecure and in trauma, while outright discrimination in the job market has left minorities in economically unstable cycles of uncertainty and poverty.
Forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls leaves families and communities insecure and in trauma, while outright discrimination in the job market has left minorities in economically unstable cycles of uncertainty and poverty.
Evidence provided by numerous NGOs, journalists and academics have shown that abductions and forced conversions are one of the most serious problems facing by girls in Province Sindh. If we talk about the Province Sindh, few recent incidents were alleged adoption and forced conversion of Hindu girls were reported. Mehak and Lata Kumari were kidnapped in Jacobabad, Sormi and Shanti were kidnapped in Tharparkar, Simran went missing from Pano Akil and Parsha Kumari was kidnapped in Khairpur. This practice of forced conversions is happening in interior Sindh but the state is quite and even not taking any concrete action on this important issue.
Pakistan government with the help of civil society should plan to train and sensitize officials from law enforcement agencies, lawyers and elected leaders so that religious minorities could have better access to justice. All citizens of the country are to be treated as one. This is what the law, the constitution and basic humanity state. If we fail to protect all the men and women, girls and boys, of this country we will only convince the minorities of the country that there is nowhere for them to turn to, nothing for them to do and leave them only to watch in agony as more and more violence is inflicted on them.
It’s my observation that peace, prosperity, brotherhood and tolerance has vanished from our lives. It is the responsibility of the majority to ensure the rights of the minority.
The police shouldn’t turn a blind eye to report an abduction and forced conversion.
We all have to be aware of the fact that one day we have to answer our GOD each and every deed that we have done in this life and there we will not be spared for our falsehood.
The writer is Director of the editorial board at the ‘The Dayspring’. He can be reached at [email protected]