Pakistan may face isolation if Minorities Bill repealed: Lawmaker

1

A minority Hindu lawmaker has said Pakistan might face isolation on international level if Sindh government abrogated the recently-passed Minorities Bill which criminalises forced conversions in the Muslim-majority country.

Minorities Bill
Pakistani children and members of a civil society light candles during a vigil for the victims of a suicide bombing attack on churches, Sunday, March 15, 2015 in Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bombers exploded themselves near two churches in the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday as worshippers were gathered inside, killing at least a dozen people, officials said, in the latest attack against religious minorities in the country. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council and Member of National Assembly (MNA) from the ruling PML(N) party, has expressed serious concern over reports of Sindh province’s move to amend or repeal the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill, 2015.

Vankwani warned if abrogation was done under pressure of “extremist religious parties”, this would add to deepen the sense of insecurity among non-Muslims, Dawn newspaper reported today.

He cautioned that “Pakistan might face isolation on international level if the bill was abrogated” as the legislation had addressed growing complaints against increasing incidents of abduction and forced conversion of underage minor Hindu girls, the report said.

Vankwani said in a statement issued yesterday that they were not against the conversion of religion as a result of deep study or preaching but their concerns were linked to forced conversions only.

Terming as “unjustified” the protest of religious parties against the law, the Hindu parliamentarian said, “Why only underage Hindu girls in Sindh are changing religion”.

“I am inviting all honourable leaders of religious parliamentary parties to visit Sindh to observe ground facts to see for themselves how the name of a peaceful religion is being exploited by some extremist elements for their personal designs, and due to this, sentiments of non-Muslims are continuously getting hurt,” Vankwani said.

He said the situation was causing outrage and trauma among non-Muslim population in Pakistan.

On 16 December, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmad Khuhro said the Minorities Bill had been sent to the governor for his assent and “whether he gives his assent or not, in both the conditions the bill would be reviewed and amended by the assembly”.

The Sindh Assembly last month adopted the bill against forced religious conversions and recommended a five-year jail term for perpetrators and facilitators of forced religious conversions will be handed a three-year sentence.

The Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema Islam-F were opposing the law, claiming the law is part of a conspiracy to make Pakistan a liberal and secular country.

Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed opposed the bill on 5 December and threatened to launch a movement against the law.

Cases of forced conversions have regularly been reported from different parts of Sindh province.

According to the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, at least 1,000 girls mostly Hindus are forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan every year.

1 COMMENT

  1. Fanatics are trying to take control and destroy the secular fabric of the country. Even Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be a secular nation. The government must not be closed down by religious fundamentalists and pass laws that do not help in the cause of secularism. Forced conversions of Hindus and Christians should be stopped. Many people like Saeed and human rights activists like Asma Jahangir must come forward to protect the country and establish communal harmony.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here