Save Hindus and Sikhs from extinction in Pakistan

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By Narain Kataria

New York: We are appalled and horrified to know that over 100 Hindu families (about 500 people) in Pakistan’s Balochistan pro-vince are making frantic efforts to seek  political asylum in India after becoming the target of a campaign of vilification, demonization, kidnapping and extortion by Jihadists supported by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.

Over the last five years, more than 5,000 Hindus have already moved from Pakistan’s Sind province to Rajasthan, India.  Their tattered clothes, emotionless faces and vacuous eyes tell their dismal tale.  Most of these Hindus refugees look like zombies.

Although no figures are made available, anecdotal evidence and human rights groups say that persecution and conversion of Hindus and Sikhs have risen in the last two years, with temples and gurudwaras being desecrated and worshippers being attacked.

According to Basant Lal Gulshan, Balochistan‚Äôs Mino-rities Affair Minister, ¬†‚Äúforty-one Hindus were abducted during the past three years and four more were killed when they resisted kidnapping attempts.‚ÄĚ

In the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Talibans have warned Hindu men to grow beard and Hindu women to wear burqa in order to avoid being beaten or fined by Lashkar extremists.

Last year, Islamic militants directed Sikh community in the NWFP  either to convert to Islam, leave the land of their forefathers, or pay  Rs.12 million ($140,000) jizya Рthe medieval tax levied on non-Muslims in Islamic state.

DNA reported in its issue of May 28, 2010  that over 50 Pakistani Hindus have converted to Islam in the Sialkot district of Punjab within a week (between May 14 and May 19) under pressure from their Muslim employers in a bid to retain their jobs and survive in the Muslim-dominated society.

Hindu women are raped, ¬†men are harassed, beaten up or slain, and children are abducted. Harassment and torture of minorities ‚ÄĒ Hindus and Christians ‚ÄĒ in Pakistan is going on unabated. According to the latest information, a Hindu girl near Karachi, was abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and kept in a Muslim mosque.

At the time of Partition of India in 1947, there were between 20 to 24 percent Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. They were forced to convert to Islam or leave the country.  In the last 63 years Hindus and Sikhs, have been ethnically cleansed from Pakistan.

It is not only Hindus and Sikhs who suffer indignity and humiliation; but Christians are also treated like criminals, and  charges of blasphemy are leveled against them.

In March 2010, Dr. Manjit Singh Randhawa, president of Sikh Nation Organization, had appealed to the United Nations against forced conversion and racial discrimination of minorities (Hindus and Sikhs) to prevail upon Pakistan to repeal the ¬†‚ÄúNizam-e-Adl 2009 Regula-tion‚ÄĚ that has ‚Äúlegitimized ¬†and legalized tyranny‚ÄĚ by ¬†Taliban, ¬†in complete disregard to its international commitments under various UN Conventions, to safeguard human rights of its citizens in Pakistan.

Jihadists in collaboration with Pakistan military have radicalized Pakistani society in the most dangerous manner.  In a show of strength, on January 9, 2011, over 40,000 Islamists gathered in the streets in  Karachi, the capital of Sind province in Pakistan, under the banner of Tahaffauz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat which is a conglomerate of religious parties opposed to amendments of the country’s blasphemy laws. They showed support  in favor of Mumtaz Quadri, the assassin of Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, and showered him with rose petals.  Speakers at the meeting openly threatened to kill anyone opposing blasphemy law while 3,000 police  officers watched them helplessly.  Mumtaz Quadri was promised legal help by 200 lawyers.

Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan are facing an uncertain future.  Their plight is miserable.  They live in fear of abduction for ransom, armed robberies and murder.

Under the circumstances, we appeal to the governments of India, the USA, the United Nations, and all global human rights groups to stop egregious human rights violations and rescue these hapless Hindus, Sikhs and Christians from the jaws of death as soon as possible.

(Narain Kataria is the presi- dent of Indian American Intellectuals Forum ‚ÄĒ Katarian@aol.com)

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