Govt serious about enacting a law banning forced conversions
In the wake of international outcry over rising incidents of abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan, the Sindh Provincial Assembly unanimously passed a resolution seeking protection for girls of all communities, an end of forced conversion of girls and action against the elements involved in the practice.
It is yet to be seen whether the resolution will have an impact on the grassroots. The unanimous passage of resolution happened only opposition Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) member and mover of the resolution Nand Kumar Goklani agreed to amend the resolution by removing the word “Hindu” from it. Many Muslim members wanted it to be generalised and addressed the issue of abduction and forced conversions of girls in Sindh. It is a common knowledge that Hindu girls are being main target of Islamic radicals and Muslim musclemen. Lawmaker from Imran Khan’s party Khurrum Sher Zaman suggested removing the name of Hindu girls from the resolution. “We have great respect for the non-Muslims living in Pakistan, but we should avoid using such words like ‘Hindu girls’ as this defames Pakistan aboard. Kidnapping incidents also happen with Muslims from other sects too,” he said.
According to Pakistani media, all major political parties including Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami supported the resolution.
GOKLANI SAID, “HUNDREDS OF HINDU GIRLS HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED IN RECENT YEARS AND SUBJECTED TO FORCED CONVERSION. THIS YEAR ITSELF 41 HINDU GIRLS HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED AND CONVERTED.”
According to him, the mainstream parties are not willing to pass a law banning abduction and forceful conversion of Hindu girls. He said an amended law to protect the Hindu community had been lying with the Minority Affairs Department since April. “But no one was interested to present it in the House,” he added.
Supporting the resolution, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mangla Sharma questioned why only Hindu girls were being abducted. Sharma said official figures showed that the ratio of minority communities was on a decline because of lack of protection they were being offered.
“Our ratio was 3.72 per cent of the total population in 1998 census, which is now 3.57 per cent. [Has] anyone ever [thought] why the ratio of minorities has reduced by 0.15 per cent in the past 20 years,” she asked
Abdul Rashid of the Jamaat-e-Islami too supported the resolution and rejected the notion that only girls are being converted. “I think the number of non-Muslim boys converting have surpassed the girls,” he said and suggested that this issue be resolved amicably by making a law to address it.
Pakistani Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mukesh Kumar Chawla assured the House that the government was serious in introducing a law against forced conversion.
Minorities Affairs Minister Hari Ram Kishori Lal affirmed that the issue of kidnapping of Hindu girls existed and said: “We are making efforts to control it”.