Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan & Prejudiced Judiciary.

JACOBABAD/SUKKUR: Four people, including three doctors, were shot dead in the Chak town of Shikarpur district on Eidul Azha. According to reports, about 10 armed men of the Bhayo tribe riding six motorcycles attacked the house of Dr Satia Pal in Chak town in the limits of the Lakhi Ghulam Shah Police Station. They started indiscriminate firing, killiing Dr Ajeet, Dr Ashok, Dr Satyapal, Dr Mehander Lal and shopkeeper Naresh on the spot. The attackers later escaped from the scene. SSP Shikarpur Junaid Ahmad Sheikh told The News that the incident was in reaction to an event some days back when Hindu youths allegedly sexually assaulted a girl of the Bhayo tribe, a charge rejected by the Hindu community. Tension gripped the town after the incident and the police established a picket. The police sealed all entry and exit routes of the district and arrested 15 suspects. A cousin of the victims, Manohar Lal, said the police were responsible for the incident, because there was no policeman present in the picket when the armed men attacked the victims’ house. He said some religious fanatics of the Bhayo tribe had levelled fake allegations of rape and the police had taken two youths Teja Ram and Nikesh Kumar into custody. Manohar Lal said: “We are ready to prove our innocence of our children as per tribal tradition.” The DIG Larkana stated that the people who were killed had no relation with the youths accused of the sexual offence. He said that the victim of the offence was missing and police were trying to recover her. He, however, feared that she had been murdered. Meanwhile, reliable sources said that victim was in the custody of the PPP District President Babul Khan Bhayo. Sources said that men of the Bhayo tribe had taken her away after the murder of three Hindus. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have taken serious notice of the incident after Geo News aired the news of the killings. The president directed his Adviser on Minority Affairs Ramesh Lal to rush to the spot and also ordered Inspector General of Sindh Police Syed Mushtaq Shah to arrest the culprits. Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan while taking notice of the incident suspended the Station House Officer of Chak Police Station, Majeed Korai, and directed SSP Shikarpur Junaid Sheikh to personally supervise the inquiry. On the second day of the incident and Eid, President’s Adviser Ramesh Lal, along with Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani arrived at Chak. Durrani assured the relatives of the victims of providing justice and arresting the culprits. Ramesh Lal and Siraj Durrani, while condemning the incident, said it was the top priority of the PPP government to protect the minorities. On the third day of the incident, the Shikarpur police registered a case under the Anti-terrorism Act against 11 people of the Bhayo and nominated seven culprits and four unknown people. JSQM Chairman Bashir Khan Qureshi, President PPP Minority Wing MNA Dr Mahesh Kumar and representatives of the civil society attended a demo protesting against the killing and demanded the early arrest of the killers. They said the incident was a conspiracy against the Hindu minority. They said the incident conveyed a message to minorities to shift their assets abroad. They made it clear that Hindus are sons of the Sindh soil and will not migrate from Sindh. REFERENCE: Three doctors among four Hindus killed in Shikarpur our correspondents Thursday, November 10, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=10168&Cat=13


Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan - 1

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHwkC5Y5xGA

Three months before the partition of the subcontinent, in an interview with Doon Campbell of Reuters, Jinnah firmly stated: "The new state will be a modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of religion, caste or creed." He repeated this on August 11, 1947, whilst addressing the members of his Constituent Assembly, making it doubly clear to them that religion is not the business of the state. He told them: "You are free, free 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." On August 11, 1947, before the flag of Pakistan had even been unfurled, Jinnah told his people and their future legislators: "You are free, free 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.


Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan - 2

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ISLAMABAD: A reported statement by Lahore High Court Chief Justice (CJ) Khawaja Muhammad Sharif that the Hindu community was funding terrorism in Pakistan, irked members of the National Assembly, as many of whom joined minority members and walked out in protest. The lawmakers also demanded Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry take suo motu notice of the CJ’s remarks. Ramesh Lal, a minority lawmaker from the Pakistan People’s Party, raised the issue on a point of order and censured the CJ’s remarks, saying the Hindu community in Pakistan was as patriotic as the rest of the country and the remarks were highly uncalled for. Lal announced a token walkout and was joined by a few other members belonging to different parties, including the Awami National Party. He said the remarks hurt the over three million Hindus in Pakistan, adding the statement was against national unity. Labour and Manpower Minister Khursheed Shah tried to defend the CJ, saying he could not have made such a statement and might have referred to India and not the Hindu community. REFERENCE: LHC CJ’s remarks irk NA members Wednesday, March 17, 2010 http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010%5C03%5C17%5Cstory_17-3-2010_pg7_6

Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan - 3
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BARELY days after the Punjab chief minister was caught playing to the Taliban gallery, another high official from the province is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This time, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif has sparked outrage for reportedly saying that Hindus were responsible for financing acts of terrorism in Pakistan. The remarks came while the judge was hearing two identical petitions against the possible extradition of Afghan Taliban suspects. It may well have been a slip of the tongue by Mr Sharif, who might have mistakenly said ‘Hindu’ instead of ‘India’ — nevertheless it was a tasteless remark to say the least. Although such remarks warrant criticism what makes them worse is the position of the person who makes them. These sort of comments are the last thing one expects to hear from a judge, that too the chief justice of a provincial high court. What sort of message are we sending to our minorities, as well as to the world, when the holder of such a respected public office makes comments that come across as thoughtless? The Hindu members of the National Assembly walked out of the house on Tuesday to protest the remarks. The members said the comments had hurt the feelings of Pakistani Hindus — and there is no doubt that they had. REFERENCE: Tactless remarks Dawn Editorial Thursday, 18 Mar, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/32510

The Muslim Persecution Of Non-Muslims In Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, March 16: It was a rare, judge’s turn to be judged in the National Assembly on Tuesday as Hindu members staged a walkout to protest at reported remarks by the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice alleging Hindu financing of terror attacks in the country. Some members of the Awami National Party too joined the first walkout against the judiciary in Pakistan’s parliament before the protesters were brought back to hear words of sympathy for the injured sentiments and some advice for judges to focus on delivering justice rather than publicity despite a government minister’s statement that the remark by Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif while hearing a case in Lahore on Thursday seemed to be “a slip of the tongue”. The protest was the second raised in the house over press reports in as many days after sharp criticism of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over his appeal to Taliban in a speech to a seminar in Lahore on Sunday to spare his province terror attacks because of some shared views with his PML-N party. PPP’s Hindu member Romesh Lal, who raised the issue, said sentiments of an estimated four million Pakistani Hindus had been injured by the LHC chief justice’s remarks, as reported in a section of the press, that while terrorist bomb blasts were being carried out by Muslims, “money used for this came from Hindus”. The member said if a country was suspected of sponsoring such attacks it should be named, but blame should not be put on just Hindus who, he said, were as good patriots as other Pakistanis. While drawing attention of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to what he called worry caused to Hindus, he appealed to Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of Justice Sharif’s remarks. As Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jilani and some other members of the ruling PPP went out of the chamber to persuade the protesters to return, party chief whip and Labour and Manpower Minister Khurshid Ahmed Shah told the house the judge seemed to be blaming India for financing the Taliban rather Hindus, adding he was sure a clarification would come “by tomorrow”. PML-N’s Rashid Akbar Niwani said judges should devote to dispensation of justice instead of seeking publicity as he also advised the media to exercise “restraint”, particularly blasting unspecified television anchorpersons who, he said, should also be held accountable for their earnings together with “heads of (government) institutions” as often-maligned elected politicians. REFERENCE: A judge is judged in NA, with walkout By Raja Asghar Wednesday, 17 Mar, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/44079

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The Subtle Subversion - The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics compiled by A. H. Nayyar and Ahmed Salim Sustainable Development Policy Institute http://www.uvm.edu/~envprog/madrassah/TextbooksinPakistan.pdf









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PAKISTAN: HINDUS No Country For Kafirs


In the inhospitable terrain of Balochistan, perennially outside Islamabad’s shrinking circle of control, marauding gangs have made it a habit of targeting people even on days of celebration. It was so with Maharaj Lakhmi Chand Garji, the 82-year-old head priest of the ancient Kali Mata Mandir in the town of Kalat. On December 17 last year, he and four of his companions were driving down the RCD (Regional Cooperation for Development) highway, on their way to attend a wedding in Khuzdar. A vehicle began tailing them. Finally, 100 km away from Surab, it shot past them on the deserted stretch of the highway, only to menacingly manoeuvre so as to bring Garji’s vehicle to a screeching halt. Armed men poured out of the vehicle to accost the group of Hindus. Blindfolded, their hands tied, they were driven into wilderness. Three of them—Sajan Das, Ram Chand and Babu Lal—were subsequently set free; Garji and Vinod Kumar, a prosperous trader’s son, were whisked away. Babu Lal later told the media, “Because we were blindfolded, it is impossible for us to know where we were taken.” Nor does the provincial government have any clue about Garji and Vinod’s whereabouts, more than a month after the abduction. It’s said the kidnappers have demanded a ransom of Rs 3 crore to free Garji, whom the Hindus of Balochistan revere as their spiritual leader. His exalted status is precisely why his kidnapping has continued to hog headlines, stoked the simmering anger among the Hindus, and prompted some to file applications in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad seeking asylum. The federal minister for human rights Saeed Ahmad Khan confirmed, “As many as 27 Hindu families from Balochistan have applied for asylum to India.” This symbolises the minority community’s lack of faith in the Pakistan nation-state and is testimony to its faltering ideals. Hence the media’s dogged focus on the plight of Balochistan’s Hindus.

It’s also true that the Hindus, despite their minuscule numbers, haven’t allowed the kidnapping of Garji to sputter into oblivion. As news of his abduction broke out, the community organised protests in the towns of Kalat, Khuzdar, Naushki and also blocked the national and RCD highways. Outside the Khuzdar Press Club, leaders of the community blamed the government for its inability to protect the life and property of the people, particularly those of minority groups. In Balochistan’s capital, Quetta, the Hindu Panchayat organised a spectacular march that wended its way through the streets of the city, a form of protest minorities rarely resort to. Santosh Kumar Bugti, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), told Outlook, “We are very scared and desperate and need protection. We will do anything to release our Maharaj.” What, though, has embarrassed the government and aroused sympathy is the repeated assertion of Hindu leaders that migration to India is a definite option for them. Simultaneously, they have also harped upon the exemplary Baloch tradition of religious tolerance, a subtle reminder about Balochistan’s alienation from its own moorings. For instance, earlier this month, Radhay Shyam openly justified the migration option, “The kidnapping of Hindus has increased. The kidnappers didn’t even spare our 82-year-old spiritual leader. This has deeply shaken our community. For centuries, we have been living with Baloch nawabs and sardars; assaulting the weaker Hindu community is against Baloch tribal traditions.” This combination of threats and placatory appeals has mounted moral pressure on the government and opposition, prompting them into issuing statements in support of the Hindus of Balochistan. Chief minister Mohammad Aslam Raisani said, “The Hindus are an integral part of Balochistan and the government will provide them with complete protection.” This week saw Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader and National Assembly member Marvi Memon visit the Arya Samaj Mandir in Quetta, a commendable step in the prevailing atmosphere of religious intolerance. Memon told a gathering of Hindus, “We have condemned the kidnapping on the floor of the National Assembly. The government should ensure the security of all citizens, including minorities. It’s also the responsibility of tribal chiefs and sardars to ensure the security of the Hindu community.”

Perhaps never before has a minority group as small as the Hindus of Balochistan so effectively reminded the nation about its ideals, its hallowed traditions. Look at their population—the 1998 census reported a little over 30,000 Hindus; the locals, though, say their number is as high as 1,50,000. Unlike their religious brethren in Sindh, the Hindus of Balochistan are prosperous, an important factor underlying their visible campaign against the abduction of Garji. As Prof Mansoor Akbar Kundi of Quetta University wrote in Balochistan: A Socio-cultural and Political Analysis, “They belong to the business class.... Some of them are wealthy merchants owning jewellery and general stores, but the majority are of middle and lower middle class businessmen with their shops/stores in the bazaars of various towns.” But the Hindus here are not a monolith community. A 2003 report of the Minority Rights Commission, prepared by Akram Mirani, notes that Baloch and Brahui tribes in some areas hire lower-caste Hindus to perform tasks that Muslims consider below their dignity. It’s the Hindu businessmen who are often the target of kidnappers. Their wealth, not religion, is the reason why they are targeted, many told Outlook. Before Pakistan was sucked into the vortex of violence, the Hindus were a distinctive strand in the social tapestry of the province—they were treated as members of the tribe holding sway over the area where they lived. Balochistan’s minister for minority affairs and human rights, Engineer Basant Lal Gulshan, told Outlook, “Baloch Hindus have lived here before the Muslims came and have always been protected by tribal leaders. Why, Nawab Akbar Bugti (killed during the Musharraf era) would say that Hindus are like the hair on your chest and very dear. Of course, the new generation of tribals are different.”

Perhaps circumstances have transformed the younger generation. The social fabric of the province was torn asunder as the secessionist movement gathered momentum and the state adopted repressive measures to crush the rebels; the rise of Islamists and the growing culture of violence undermined the moral authority of traditional leaders. Islamabad’s neglect of the province has led to the breakdown of the law and order machinery, enabling criminal gangs to operate with impunity. Says Kamaluddin Ahmad, a businessman who has shifted from Quetta to Karachi, “These kidnappings are not religiously motivated, the Hindus have been caught in the crossfire. They are easy prey as they readily pay ransom after being kidnapped.” Gulshan concurs on this: “Balochistan is reeling under the terror that has gripped the entire country. Hindus are easy targets as they readily pay the ransom. The community has lived in peace, you will never find a Hindu traitor. It’s only when life becomes difficult that they migrate to other parts of Pakistan or abroad.” Gulshan cites the example of Gardari Lal Bhatia, a politician-businessman whose family had to mortgage their property to pay the ransom to kidnappers. Financially ruined, Bhatia migrated to India.

Causes for kidnapping apart, there’s no denying that the Hindus in Balochistan have a perilous existence. The Balochistan Home Department says 291 people were abducted for tribal or political rivalries; another eight were kidnapped for ransom—most of them Hindus. In the provincial assembly debate on January 25, though, former minister Jay Prakash quoted a higher figure of 20 Hindus who were abducted last year. Eight or 20, both figures seem an insignificant number for a strife-torn province but is large enough to undermine the confidence of a community as small as the Hindus. A Hindu businessman told Outlook, “I have no choice but to leave the country. I’m in touch with relatives abroad, some in India, to help my family. It’s not easy to migrate either but it’s better than the fear that we live with every day.” There’s no official statistics available, but locals confirm that Hindus are gradually trickling out of Balochistan—to destinations as far as Canada but mostly to India next door. Some claim that at least 400-500 families have moved out over the last decade. This is indeed alarming for the small community. For Pakistan, it’s a gauge to measure the depths to which it has fallen. REFERENCE: PAKISTAN: HINDUS No Country For Kafirs? Insecurity envelops Balochi Hindus after a series of abductions. Many are emigrating. MARIANA BAABAR MAGAZINE | FEB 07, 2011 http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?270204

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