Crimes against Hindus and Christians continue unabated in Pakistan

Proto Thema Pakistani Christians protesting the September 22, 2013 suicide bombings at Peshawar's All Saints Church, which left more than 80 dead.

Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan is making life for Hindus and Christians of the country unbearable.

Last month, Hindu girl Pooja Kumari was killed by a man at her home in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Pooja Kumari was shot in Sukkur after she put up resistance to the attackers.

Condemning this incident, Pakistan Today said this is not the first time such an incident has happened as there have been several and repeated incidents of killings, abductions and forced conversions of Hindu women in Pakistan, especially in Sindh.

Although the killer was arrested, the Pakistan newspaper asked the question raised by critics that when this would end and what the authorities have done to stop it?

Pakistan political analysts say that the PPP or other parties will not go against the hardline religious figures and personalities over the fear of losing votes.

“PPP has failed to protect minorities. The provincial administration should be pressurised into providing security to non-Muslim communities,” said Dr. Jaipal Chhabria, a member of the National Commission of Minorities.

Hindu Member of National Assembly (MNA) of Lal Malhi, said, “PPP’s Sindh government even do not allow the poor Hindus to protest, as police stop protesting mourners carrying dead body of Pooja.”

Pakistan analysts say there is mass indifference among the people of Pakistan because religion is involved. According to the expert, many in the country actually wholeheartedly support these conversions.

“The time is ripe for the government of Sindh concerned to contemplate a long-lasting solution of this burning issue to safeguard the rights of minority girls and women,” maintains analyst Shaikh Abdul Rasheed.

“This will help them enjoy a carefree life beyond forced conversions and marriages with people of other religions. All of this is encouraged and supported by religious fanatics.”

Meanwhile, a man who attempted to kidnap and rape a seven-year-old Christian girl was granted bail at the beginning of this month.

On 7 February, Jessica Pervaiz and her parents had become separated during the funeral of a relative when Muhammad Sharif tried to sexually abuse the child.

Upon hearing the cries of her daughter, the father intervened and called police; the latter filed a First Information Report (FIR) on the same day.

The next day Sharif was arrested and admitted he wanted to kidnap the girl. However, the case took a different twist after Pervaiz was told to drop the charges; otherwise, he and his family would suffer consequences.

At that point, the father turned to Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), an organisation that, among other things, provides providing legal aid to families of religious minorities who are facing legal cases.

Muhammad Sharif was taken to the Faisalabad District Prison in early March, but was granted bail on 8 April. The court said that further investigation was needed.

Meanwhile, the Pervaiz family, which has attended court proceedings, is getting death threats.

HRFP president Naveed Walter told AsiaNews that half of the girls from religious minorities who are kidnapped are aged 7 and 15.

“The new government should take immediate action on issues involving kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages,” Walter said.

The previous government, led by Imran Khan, rejected a bill that would have banned forced conversions due to the opposition from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which defined the draft law as “un-Islamic”.

For the activist, “This is the ideal time for new legislation in favour of minorities given that both of the country's main parties are in coalition and in the past have claimed to be in favour of protection for minorities.”