The historic Presidential election held in Afghanistan on April 5 that witnessed huge turnout of voters including large numbers of female voters despite the shadow of violence and terror threat, is a clear indicator that the Aghans are finally ready for a change. Not only has their attitude toward elections changed, they seem to have also embraced the idea that even a flawed election is a better alternative than the old ways of brutality and terror returning to the country.
Total number of eligible voters in Afghanistan is 12 million out of which 7 million casted their vote this time. Though Taliban, a terrorist outfit threatened everyone connected with the elections, and launched a bloody attack in the capital and around the country, killing two local leaders, and three journalists last month: A good voter turnout was a slap on their face. It reflected that a new Afghan generation has come of age, and it is eager to have a say in their future.
The other new thing in this election was the use of two types of ink for the voters- blue silver nitrate was used on one finger and invisible ink on another to prevent fraud. Another surprising element was the minimum casualties compared to the 2009 elections. In 2009 the vote that returned President Hamid Karzai to power was marred by fraud, with more than a million ballots thrown out. But there has been stark improvement in the Election organisation in 2014. This was the country's first poll held on schedule with tighter anti-fraud measures.
Opinion poll showed that out of 11 candidates, Abdullah Abdullah (National Coalition) and Ashraf Ghani (Independent) are the front runners. If, as expected, no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote, the two top contenders will go to a run-off on 28 May.
Afghanistan is suffering from lack of jobs and poverty, and 2014 election is like a ray of hope for Afghanis that the things will change in Afghanistan also.
Christians, Hindus forced to convert into Islam in Pak: Report
Even after 65 years of partition, Hindus living in Pakistan have an uncertain future. The minority has been consistently targeted and discriminated by the Muslims in Pakistan.
According to a report released by Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP), in Pakistan, on April 7, around 1,000 Christian and Hindu women in Pakistan are forced to convert into Islam and get married to Muslim men. And it continues till date, unchecked and unreported.
According to the report, the cases were never reported by the local police and pointed finger towards the drawback of the Pakistani legal system in providing justice to the victims. The report estimates the incidence of forced marriage and conversion being close to100 to 700 victims Christian and 300 Hindu girls per year.
The report cites, Pakistan government’s laxity in providing security to the minorities from forced conversion is one of the main reasons behind the exodus of Hindus from Pakistan, apart from discriminatory laws and killing of minorities over these issues.
Though Pakistan choose to remain silent on these issues, it is high time for the Indian government to take up the matter seriously with both Pakistan and Bangladesh governments for the sake of protecting the rights of minority Hindus in these countries.
After releasing this report, the MSP has also asked the Pakistan government to protect the rights of the minorities and provide them safety as they have been fighting for long for their basic rights and religious freedom, to live a peaceful life in Pakistan.
Lahore goes the Hindi way
In attempt to introduce Urdu speakers to the know-how of Devanagari script, the script used for writing Hindi, among many other languages, a two day Hindi workshop in the name “The Veil of Devanagari: A Hindi Script Workshop” will be organised by Taimoor Shahid Khan at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS on (April 12-13).
The idea behind this workshop is to give people an introduction to the basics of this age old script with the assumption that learning Devanagari with the aim of reading Hindi is easy for those familiar with Urdu in at least two ways. Firstly the Devanagari script is easier compared to complex scripts like Arabic, and has some semblance to the Roman script-It is not cursive and does not change form. And the other being that for a person knowing Urdu, learning words in a relatively similar language is not very difficult.
Such genuine efforts need to be promoted. Persons like Taimoor who take up noble initiatives irrespective of the communal animosity between the two countries should be appreciated and be given financial aid and help. Where India provides aid to more than 50 countries to promote Hindi, financial help to the immediate neighbor Pakistan in pockets where people like Taimoor Khan are working in this direction is a must to improve bilateral relations.
The workshop is open to all. No prior knowledge of Hindi or the Nagari script, nor any knowledge of Urdu literature is assumed. All learning materials will be provided. The matter will be given through instruction, practice, handouts, and through reading materials such as Bollywood posters.
Hindu girls in danger in B’desh
Bearing the brunt of being minorities in Muslim dominated countries, kidnapping of Hindu girls for the purpose of their conversion into Islam by marrying Muslim men is not new in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Abduction of Hindu girls was common in Pakistan and now such cases are on rise in Bangladesh. Recent kidnapping of Chaity Rani Dey (15), a Minority Hindu school Girl on February 5 from Roygonj Upazila within Serajgonj district (Bangladesh) and of Rupa Rani pal (13) on March 12 from Rupgonj Upazila within Narayangonj district (Bangladesh) has come into limelight.
Two FIRs have been lodged under Section 7/30 of Women and Children Repression Act for both the kidnappings. Chaity Rani’s kidnapping complaint has been lodged in Roygonj police station and that of Rupa in Rupgonj police station.
Anup Kumar Dey, father of Chaity Rani Dey told that after an FIR was lodged perpetrators have intimidated their family over phone, saying that “If the case is not withdrawn from the police station, they will be killed anytime.”
The silence of the Bangladeshi government is a sign of their covert support for the perpetrators. And it’s now India’s responsibility to take legal action to save Hindu girls in Bangladesh and other countries from torture and harassment and restore their freedom and pride.
(Nishant Kumar Azad withinputs from agencies)